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Audit: LIRR needs to better monitor its homeless outreach partner

The Long Island Rail Road is paying a company hundreds of thousands of dollars to help homeless people at its stations, but a new report says the agency didn't get what it paid for.

News 12 Staff

Jan 17, 2019, 11:56 PM

Updated 1,953 days ago

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The Long Island Rail Road is paying a company hundreds of thousands of dollars to help homeless people at its stations, but a new report says the agency didn't get what it paid for.
The winter can be a tough time for Jerome Woods, who's homeless and living near the Babylon LIRR station. He says he's trying to get help to stay warm.
For several years, the LIRR has hired Services for the UnderServed, or S:US, to conduct homeless outreach at its stations. It has cost more than $800,000 over the last five years.
A state comptroller's audit says agents followed S:US workers as they conducted outreach. But the report notes when S:US workers didn't know they were being watched, their time at the stations was shortened.
In one case, the comptroller’s office says S:US workers never got out of a car. And in the official S:US report from that incident, the workers named a homeless person they allegedly helped.
In a statement sent to News 12, S:US didn't directly address that allegation, only that it has helped many homeless people on the LIRR.
"We remain committed to providing the highest quality services and will continue to work with the MTA to satisfy the provisions of the contract," it said.
While the LIRR is trying to improve its homeless outreach, some are already working to fill in the gaps.
Michele Delpezza, of Deer Park, says she was homeless once herself and, after getting sober, now goes to the Babylon station often to help people.
The comptroller's report recommends that the LIRR monitor S:US more carefully and ensure accurate reports.
The LIRR tells News 12 in a statement that it welcomes the comptroller's recommendations and is taking steps to address his concerns.


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