LIRR responds to scathing audit of MTA's homeless outreach program

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BABYLON -

The Long Island Rail Road responded to a state audit that is highly critical of the MTA's homeless outreach program, saying it is making steps to improve.

The LIRR says it contracts with a company called Services for the Underserved (SUS) to provide outreach to those in need at local train stations. But in a scathing report in January, the state comptroller found SUS was not doing its job.

State officials say in some cases, SUS workers were spending less and less time at train stations helping the homeless, and in some cases they were never even getting out of their car.

In a recently released response to the audit, railroad officials say they have taken steps to improve the performance of SUS by increasing oversight and added efforts to reach out to the homeless at the various stations.

The LIRR responded to all of the comptroller's recommendations, and says it is already complying with the comptroller's recommendations in some instances. For others, officials say they are implementing the changes.

"We have been working with the MTA for the last four years and throughout that time we have assisted hundreds of homeless people at or near stations on Long Island," says Trish Marsik, COO of SUS. "We have offerred them connections to housing and medical care. We have also addressed their physical needs including food and clothing. We remain committed to providing high quality services and we will continue working with the MTA to satisfy the provisions of our contract"

At the Babylon train station, Joseph says he is not the only homeless veteran who takes shelter there. He says he feels like society has forgotten about him.

"There's a bunch of us, nobody really cares," says Joseph.

The comptroller's office says it is likely a follow-up audit will be done to see if the recommendations were implemented.

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