Sunday, September 28, 2008

Anyone from Downstate?

(That would be in New York)

In my social work mental health policy class, we have to explore a county in my state and determine what services are available for people with mental illness. We are to determine what barriers may be present, and what advantages that they may have.

Anyways, My group was assigned Westchester County. It was very interesting for us because the county is similar in population and many demographics than the county I live in, except the per capita income is double ours.

This county seems to be rich in resources, as in many agencies that can serve the population. It seems that the county may be a model for childrens mental health. So what could be bad?

Well, as I live 8 hours away from this county, it is hard for me to speculate. I called some advocacy agencies and was not given any useful information.

So my educated guesses:
Transportation is a big issue. As it is so close to NYC, I am sure many people rely on communter trains to get to NYC. However, I bet the local public transportation might just be crap. It seems most communities that are close to a big city, but are still far away, usually reley on people DRIVING to the bus station to get to work. Their local community is still an autodependent area.

Cost of living: The cost of living in Westchester is pretty damn high. I bet many people struggle in the working class, yet are well above the poverty line. This is that syndrome in which McDonalds pays $10...but it is well under a living wage. You may no longer qualify for foodstamps, and other benefits. You slip between the cracks. Not enough money to be secure, too much to get help.

This is my thinking...any comments?

2 Comments:

Blogger Spring said...

Well, since I live in Westchester, here goes.

You are pretty right on about cost of living. Rugrat makes $8.75/hour, and that's considered generous. But in looking for even a small studio apartment, they are going for $800 and up, even in less desirable areas. It's going to be very tight financially.

And when she applied for the community college for this fall, that's when we discovered that we made too much for any services, and that they expected our family contribution to be an amount that turned out to be the equivalent of 10% of my gross salary.

Transportation is a huge issue for jobs and accessing services (which is why our car being out of commission is causing us such trouble). If you live in one of the cities (Yonkers, White Plains, etc), you're probably ok. But if you live in a small village or outlying area, public transport is limited.

And the cost of metro north if you live in westchester and work in the city: just to get to my village (right north of yonkers) the monthly train fare is $185 (and a monthly subway pass is $81, which you also need). That's why I get off at the Marble Hill stop (225th in the Bronx) and catch the subway from there -- that's only $58.25/month for metro north.

I haven't even done any grocery shopping for two weeks, because without the car, trying to get to/from with groceries is a hassle.

I have a doc appt tomorrow AM, and I'll have to take a bus two villages north to the doc, then another bus back south past my village to the nearest Quest for blood work. Then there will be a one mile walk to the walgreen's to fill my prescription, because there's not a bus going that direction. Then a two mile walk home. What should take me about 1.5 hours will instead take me most of the afternoon.

And what's sad is I'm in a professional position, with a decent salary.

10:51 PM  
Blogger Spring said...

Oh, and a big challenge in terms of having your own car: insurance is more expensive downstate, and we have tougher vehicle inspection standards, so you're forking out even more $$ to keep your vehicle running legally.

10:53 PM  

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