Commissioner of Schoharie County Social Services Paul J. Brady said, in Schoharie County, the war on poverty has been “a real struggle.”
“We’re all rebounding from a recession we never completely recovered from,” Brady said. “We hear in the media that the economy is getting better, but it’s often hard to see that in our local communities.”
Brady said the biggest employer when he came to Schoharie County in the late 1990s was Guilford Mills, a large plant in Cobleskill that produced lace. After manufacturing relocated around 2001, he said, 500 to 600 jobs were eliminated. Being primarily agricultural, this disappearance of jobs took a toll on the county, he said. About 10 years later, Brady said, the county was faced with an even greater obstacle.
“The flood had a big impact on our economy,” Brady said. “Three years later, there are still a lot of vacant buildings and homes. The flood became part of the fabric of our community.”
Brady said Social Services administers programs such as HEAP, SNAP and Medicaid. According to Brady, HEAP and SNAP are two of the most-used programs in Schoharie County.
“It has been a cold winter so far,” Brady said. “With the cost of fuel oil, people often need help--$600 is not going to last long for some people … It will get 150 gallons of fuel oil, but what do they do when that’s gone?”
If they are eligible, Brady said, they can apply for HEAP, which supplements the heat and utility needs of vulnerable and low-income households. Brady said HEAP provides regular benefits, emergency benefits and repair and replacement of furnaces.
According to Brady, the usage of SNAP in Schoharie County has gone up dramatically over the past three years. He said SNAP is available to eligible low and fixed income households and is used to supplement grocery budgets. According to the county’s website, food stamp users must work or participate in work-related activities to receive food stamps for more than three months in any 36-month period.