Groups of volunteers and human service professionals with the Housing & Homeless Coalition of Central New York will be canvassing Oswego, Onondaga and Cayuga counties Wednesday to get a count of how many people are homeless in the area. The count last year found nearly 600 men, women and children in central New York were experiencing homelessness, which includes emergency shelters and transitional living facilities.
Jill Brzuszkiewicz is the Continuum of Care program manager at Oswego County Opportunities. She has helped organize volunteers to canvass all corners of Oswego County for the point-in-time count.
“So that we can try to basically paint a picture of what homelessness looks like and get people services that are needed, and get more services into our county that are needed too,” Brzuszkiewicz said.
The canvassers will go to spots known for having homeless people -- including businesses open past 7 p.m. where sometimes people go to warm up -- like gas stations, laundromats and Walmart. Currently, Oswego County does not have a family shelter where someone can knock on the door for help. But when canvassers do find a homeless person, they can call 211 with that person and find a place for the night, like a hotel, motel or warming center.
“The individual has to be willing,” Brzuszkiewicz said. “Sometimes, they can say, no I’m fine, and what we would do is just tell them about services.”
Brzuszkiewicz said a lack of affordable housing is the biggest factor for homelessness.
"Finding something for somebody that maybe makes minimum wage or has public assistance as their income is extremely difficult," Brzuszkiewicz said. "A lot of time people are using their whole income for housing."
The point-in-time count is done every year and is a requirement for some federal funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.