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Homelessness takes slight dip in central New York

Housing and Homeless Coalition

Results from an annual survey show little change in the number of people who are homeless in central New York. The Point In Time study records in a single day how many people are utilizing emergency and transitional shelters and those who are sleeping out on the streets. 

The Housing and Homeless Coalition recorded the numbers for Onondaga, Oswego and Cayuga counties, finding a slight decrease from 2016. There were 519 people were in shelters in the three counties and 27 were living outdoors or in make-shift shelters considered not suitable for habitation, compared to 563 and 27 in 2016.

Similarly, numbers were down in Oneida and Madison counties, with 143 people in shelters and 12 on the streets, compared to 143 and 17.

Scott McCumber, who coordinated the surveys for Oneida and Madison counties with Social Sciences Associates, attributes the drop to more available housing.

"As a community around upstate New York, we are really responding well to the issue of more affordable housing, permanent support of housing and getting people rapidly re-housed," McCumber said. "So, we’re able to better provide services to get people from homeless, emergency shelters off the streets and into permanent housing quicker, which is kind of alleviating that on the shelters."

But many people say New York state is not doing enough to provide housing for the homeless. Last year, the state legislature approved $2 billion in funding to start building thousands of affordable housing units and shelters across the state. Yet much of that funding has been caught up in a political disagreement between state leaders on the details of how to spend that money. 

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.