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Board tackles homeless issue


Special to The Press

A proposed 2023 budget amendment on job classification and pay plans led to a discussion among Lehigh County commissioners, during their Nov. 9 meeting, on how to best address homelessness.

Homelessness has become key issue in the last few weeks across the region.

Last month, the City of Bethlehem presented a task force to city council on how best to address the issue.

Commissioner Jeffrey Dutt, who sponsored the budget amendment resolution, commented.

“We can make at least make a dent in the issues we see with homelessness, within the county,” Dutt said. “And I think if we address at least some of those, at least we can see improvement in the lives that we have here in the county.”

Dutt reviewed the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, focusing on key points, such as shelter.

He explained to his colleagues the model reflects what he feels should be priority in shaping policies that affect the residents of the county.

Commissioner Dave Harrington supported Dutt’s argument, making the point “housing is an issue.”

Commissioner Bob Elbich explained his frustration with the lack of proper data from vendors.

“We must have a mechanism in place to get the data back in terms of performance of our vendors in terms of issues, and make sure that taxpayer dollars are well spent,” Elbich said.

He stressed the importance of ensuring those who need a service are actually getting a service to better their lives.

The resolution passed by a vote of 7-2.

The other big issue of night dealt with the reapportionment of Lehigh County Commissioners Districts.

Commissioner Geoff Brace explained this process takes place after each U.S. Census.

Brace said Lehigh County is currently comprised of 374,000 residents.

Reviewing the new redistricting map, Brace noted the biggest population growth since the last census was in District 2.

The purpose of this process is to try and get the various districts as uniform, in terms of population, as possible.

The bill passed unanimously.

On a final note, all commissioners lauded Brace for his work related to the midterm elections.

Commissioner Ron Beitler stating how “outstanding of a job” his colleague, as well as volunteers, had done to ensure things ran smoothly. Brace made the point that it was a “really good day” for republican democracy as the process ran smoothly in the county.

PRESS PHOTOS BY MARIEKE ANDRONACHE Commissioner Jeffrey Dutt explains the Maslow Hierarchy of Needs to his colleagues.
Commissioner Bob Elbich speaks to Commissioner Geoff Brace on his concerns about finding adequate data from vendors, as Commissioner Jeffrey Dutt looks on.