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Franklin Co. to reimburse Waynesboro shelter for housing former inmates

February 12, 2013|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — The Franklin County (Pa.) Commissioners are expected to enter into an agreement this week with Waynesboro’s New Hope Shelter to reimburse the shelter for services it provides to people being released from jail.

The homeless shelter takes in Franklin County Jail inmates who do not have approved housing plans when they are ready to be released. Once there, the individuals receive not only meals and beds, but also job-readiness training, life skills instruction and one-on-one counseling.

The agreement scheduled for a vote by the county commissioners Thursday now establishes a rate for which the county will reimburse the shelter.

“We’ve been doing it already. We just never got paid for it,” said Bill Burcher, executive director of the shelter.

The shelter on South Potomac Street will set aside three beds for the county’s use. It would bill the county $20 a day for each former inmate, compared to the $65 a day for incarceration at the jail.

“It saves money and helps the prisoners get on with their life,” Burcher said.

David Keller, chairman of the commissioners, said the contract scheduled for a vote sets the maximum amount to be paid in 2013 at $21,900. He said he expects the agreement to be approved.

Keller said the county uses a few apartments in Chambersburg, Pa., for similar purposes.

The shelter does not take in individuals who are sexual offenders because it houses men, women and children in its general population, according to Burcher.

The shelter worked with about 17 former inmates in each of the past two years, Burcher said. Those individuals must meet certain expectations, such as respecting curfew and searching for employment, he said.

“We expect them to be out and working. If not, they’re going back to jail,” Burcher said.

In 2011 and 2012, almost every former inmate staying at New Hope Shelter found employment, Burcher said. All of them found housing at the end of the 90-day program, he said.

A few of the individuals were sent back to the jail for not completing the program successfully, Burcher said.

The $20-a-day rate is essentially the “break-even” amount of what it costs for the shelter to serve the individuals, Burcher said.

“They’re able to begin to lead a productive life,” he said.

The New Hope Shelter has the capacity for 45 people, but averages 25 at a time, he said.

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