The 2020 Point In Time Count, the annual count that tracks how many homeless people are living in each county of the country, found 613 people were experiencing homelessness in Oswego (52), Cayuga (132), and Onondaga (429) counties last month, which means they were living outside or in emergency shelters or transitional living facilities. Megan Stuart, director of the Housing and Homeless Coalition of Central New York, said that's down 16 percent from last year.
"We're required by HUD, Housing and Urban Development, to do this count every year and they are looking for communities to have at best a 5 percent decrease from year to year, so 16 percent is above and beyond that," Stuart said. "We’ve decreased steadily every year but this is the biggest drop we’ve seen in a long time."
Stuart credits the decrease to the recent investments the community has made in its Rapid Rehousing Project. It makes housing and subsidies available to help people get out of homeless shelters and back into permanent housing so they can achieve long-term stability. The other thing that she said is making a difference is the local focus on diversion, making sure people aren’t even entering the homeless system.
However, the count also showed higher numbers of people living outdoors this year than last. And although the data for Oneida County is not yet in, officials involved in that count say there has been an uptick in homelessness in the region over the past year.