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$250K in state funding cut from Rochester VOC

July 11, 2019 06:06 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- A quarter of a million dollars in funding was slashed from this year's state budget with little notice and now the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester is scrambling to fill the gap.

The VOC services thousands of veterans in our area with transitional housing, job training and counseling services.

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For the past several years, the state Senate has added $250,000 in funding to the $250,000 the governor's office includes in the annual budget but this year, Republicans, who typically champion the cause, were no longer in the majority. Senators from the Rochester area didn't have the pull they normally do and were unsuccessful in getting new Senate leadership to reinstate the $250,000. 

Scott Boyce is a Navy veteran who fell on some hard times a few years back and ended up in prison. When he got out, he had nowhere to go so he called the Veterans Outreach Center and it was able to arrange a room for him in its transitional housing.

"This place is phenomenal. You get a meal every night. You actually get to sleep on a really nice comfortable bed. I had no clothes when I got out except what I was wearing and they loaded me up," he recalls.

The VOC has also been making sure he gets to medical appointments and has been providing him job training.

"It's been literally a life-saver. if it wasn't for them, I'd be dead right now if not back in prison," he tells News10NBC.

Boyce's story is similar to many others who rely on the VOC and its services. Executive Director Laura Stradley tells News10NBC she had no indication that any state funding was in jeopardy until just a few weeks before the end of the legislative session.

"Everybody is thrilled with the services we provide but unfortunately, a change in politics this year kind of left us high and dry," Stradley says.

The VOC tried to enlist the help of our local Assembly representatives since most of those members are in the majority but it was so late in the session, they couldn't get the money reinstated in time.

"We are really exhausting every effort to ensure that a cut in programs or services is the absolute last alternative for us," says Stradley.  

The VOC is looking for alternate ways to raise money. Right now, it's working to get the flag store it runs on South Avenue an internet presence. They've also started a community fundraising page to try and make up some of the lost $250,000.  

In a statement, Assemblywoman Jamie Romeo says, "Unfortunately, the Senate was not able to secure those additional funds this year. However, I can assure you that local members in the state Assembly will continue to work with our local colleagues in the Senate to get additional funding for the Veterans Outreach Center."

 Assemblyman Harry Bronson's office tells News10NBC he too will prioritize this funding and try to get it reinstated in next year's state budget.  

Credits

Jennifer Lewke

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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