Number of homeless individuals in CNY expected to rise from last year
Volunteers are spread out through Onondaga, Oswego and Cayuga Counties, looking for homeless individuals. This yearly Point-In-Time effort is required by the federal government, but also shows how bad the homeless issue has grown in Central New York.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the count of homeless individuals was dropping year over year. Housing and Homeless Coalition of Central New York Director Megan Stuart said pandemic-related policies and funding kept those numbers low through 2022, but then things changed.
"Since last year we saw a huge uptick in our numbers, homelessness just continuing to increase over the year from our data that we have," Stuart said. "So we are expecting to see another increase even from last year this year."
Homeless numbers jumped 30% from 2022 to 2023. For a broader perspective, there were 469 homeless individuals counted in 2021. Stuart expects the tally from the current count to be over 1,000. One big reason, a lack of affordable housing.
"Substandard housing or housing that isn't substandard is becoming more and more unaffordable for folks, especially for those who are making minimum wage who are on some sort of public benefit," Stuart said. "Folks who really just don't have the income to pay $1200 a month for a one-bedroom."
Stuart said while local agencies can offer emergency shelter, individuals and families are finding longer stays in those shelters, because of the lack of permanent housing.
"We're able to shelter folks pretty well in our community, but on the back end trying to get people back into permanent housing is more and more challenging every day," Stuart said.
The count includes individuals living outside, as well as those in shelters.