Deemed ‘Essential Services,’ County Shelters Reopen

Ruled ‘Essential Services,’

OFO Shelters Reopened

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to


ONEONTA – Citing the domestic violence and homeless shelters “essential services,” the Otsego County Board of Representatives and the county’s Department of Social Services have reopened both buildings.

“We’re happy that they have reopened and that they are helping these vulnerable populations in our community,” said county Rep. Adrienne Martini, D-Oneonta, chair of the county board’s Human Services Committee. “It’s so important that they be open and operational.”

On Tuesday, March 17, Opportunities for Otsego, which operates both shelters, announced that they were closing both shelters, citing COVID-19 precautions.

“These shelters were closed without consulting us or the board,” said county board Chair Dave Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Middlefield/Cherry Valley. “Our first priority was finding the shelter for the people who needed it.”

Social Service Commissioner Eve Bouboulis, quickly worked to get the people from the shelters into new housing. “She has been tireless in her efforts on behalf of those most vulnerable among us,” said Bliss. “She did great work finding alternative housing for the people who needed it.”

and Bliss contacted the state departments of Child and Family Services and Temporary and Disability Assistance for guidance, as well as OFO. “They agreed that these shelters were essential,” he said.

The domestic violence shelter was reopened April 8; the homeless shelter reopened April 14. Both are able to operate at full capacity if necessary.

According to Martini, DSS has been working with shelter staff to incorporate COVID-19 precaution guidelines. “They’re making sure people have more space and everyone wears a mask,” she said.

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