FULTON, NY – In Oswego County, there are very few options for people who suddenly find themselves have no place to live. Many more live in an unstable home situation that could crumble at any moment. Homelessness reaches beyond the images of panhandlers on big-city streets, or living in cardboard boxes. It’s affecting families, teens and young adults, and individuals in all of our communities.
Homelessness is not always visible, but it is growing, said OCO Executive Director Diane Cooper-Currier.
“Five years ago, we may have served 350 people in one year. In late 2012 we connected with that many in just three months,” she said.
In addition, the number of overcrowded housing units has quadrupled since 2006 and the number of housing units without proper sanitation has doubled in that same time frame.
Homelessness is a complex problem with no easy solution. Oswego County Opportunities is providing many ways for the community to help.
One way is to participate in OCO’s annual Bowl-A-Fun on April 13, at Lakeview Lanes.
This year’s event was dubbed the “Lucky 13” Bowl-A-Fun because it is taking place on 4-13-13.
“Proceeds will benefit services for the homeless, now and in the future,” according to Cooper-Currier. “Homelessness is a serious barrier to those in poverty, and it impacts consumers of every service we provide.”
To register a five-person team, become a sponsor, make a donation or provide a door prize, please contact OCO at 598-4717.
Another way to help raise funds for the homeless is to buy tickets for OCO’s “Lucky 13” Raffle.
“We’re only selling 413 tickets, and we have three great prizes: More than $450 of camping gear, an overnight luxury stay for two at Vernon Downs Casino, and a 3-hour dinner cruise for two on your choice of Skaneateles Lake or the Erie Canal,” said Cooper-Currier.
Tickets are $5 or three for $13, and are available by calling OCO at 598-4717 or 342-7532. Again, proceeds will benefit OCO’s homeless services.
What else can be done to help?
“Even $10 makes a difference,” Cooper-Currier said. “A $10 donation feeds one homeless person for a day.”
The larger the donation, the bigger the impact:
$10 feeds a homeless person for a day
$200 feeds a homeless person for a month
$375 feeds a homeless family for a month
$75 secures emergency housing for a homeless family (or individual) for one night
$100 helps a homeless family with moving and storage cost to support their transition to permanent housing
$200-$500 helps a family keep their heat and lights on so they can stay in their housing
$500 houses a homeless family/individual for a month or covers the cost of a security deposit to get a family into permanent housing
Here’s an example of a success story from OCO Homeless Services:
A client called for assistance because she was behind in her rent. She was laid off and unemployment benefits were not enough to keep up with the rent. She was also parenting a niece that she had custody of. Staff advised her of grantee benefits that would be available on behalf of her niece.
Although this was not a large amount of money it would help meet the needs of the niece while going through a tough time.
Client was proud and didn’t want to obtain help, as she was embarrassed that she could not support herself at this time. Staff discussed purpose of these benefits that were available to her during these tough times. Client did apply and obtain these grantee benefits. OCO paid some of her rent arrears to prevent her from getting an eviction.
After a couple of months she went back to work and was catching up on all of her bills. She then had to have knee replacement surgery and was out of work for an additional 2 months.
OCO paid for one month’s rent and then she went back to work. She is now current on her bills and rent. She was very appreciative of assistance received.
OCO also operates a 24/7 Homeless Hotline: 342-7618. For more information, or to donate items to OCO Homeless Services, contact Brian Coleman at 342-7532 or for more information about the PATH Program for teenage homeless contact Larry Fisher at 598-6664.
OCO Homeless Services are funded in part through the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, US Department of Health and Human Services, NYS Education Department, and Oswego City County Your Bureau.
A private, non-profit agency, OCO touches the lives of more than 30,000 people each year through more than 50 programs operating in more than 80 locations throughout Oswego County.
The agency, which is a United Way of Greater Oswego County member, employs more than 600 people and has more than 1,200 highly valued volunteers.
For more information, visit www.oco.org