FULTON, NY – In an ongoing effort to combat homelessness in Oswego County, COACH (County of Oswego Advocates Challenging Homelessness), Oswego County’s Continuum of Care Committee, is closely reviewing the results of its annual Point in Time survey.
A one-day count of homeless individuals in Oswego County, the Point in Time survey, mandated by the federal department of Housing and Urban Development, is a concise effort by area human service agencies to raise the awareness of homelessness and compile an approximate number of those who are homeless, or are housing vulnerable, in Oswego County.
According to COACH Committee member Kristin LaBarge, the Point in Time Survey is a way to create a picture of homelessness in Oswego County.
“When someone thinks of homelessness they envision people living and sleeping on the street. In Oswego County it’s not that way. In our county, homelessness is not as recognizable. The vast majority of homeless in Oswego County are those with no permanent housing who are temporarily living with a family member or a friend and bounce from house to house,” explained LaBarge.
The Point In Time survey engaged Oswego County agencies whose programs address homelessness.
Staff members interviewed their consumers and compiled a report filled with valuable data that helps COACH create a snapshot of what homelessness does look like in Oswego County.
Additionally, outreach teams collected information from homeless individuals they were able to find on the streets and in the parks.
While the Point In Time Survey is a one day event and may not be a 100% reflection, LaBarge said that it is very good representation of the homelessness that exists every day and provides valuable information.
“When conducting the surveys we converse with these individuals to establish where they are living; are they safe and stable; are they at risk of losing their housing; are they being sheltered or receiving assistance; what is their household makeup, children / adults, etc.; is there a disability or diagnosis that it is limiting their chances obtaining housing? This provides us with a clear picture of what the needs are and what services are lacking when it comes to combating homelessness,” said LaBarge.
This year, 316 surveys were completed and results indicated a disturbing trend.
In Oswego County the amount of families and individuals who are at imminent risk of becoming homeless is increasing.
– 39 households / 66 people were in an emergency shelter situation or receiving a voucher to stay where they are.
– 116 households / 260 people were at imminent risk of becoming homeless
– 6 people were homeless
According to LaBarge these numbers provide only a snapshot, not a complete picture of homelessness in Oswego County.
“With the survey being done on one day only in late January it makes it difficult to get an accurate figure on the amount of those that are homeless. Many of them will not on the street, they will most likely be sharing space in a friends home or somewhere else where they can stay out of the weather. Ideally a survey should be held in the warmer weather as well,” said LaBarge.
These numbers and others from the survey point to the pressing need for homeless services in Oswego County.
To address the serious issue of homelessness in Oswego County, COACH is in contact with state and federal officials to plead their case and discuss the possibilities of procuring state and federal funds to help combat homelessness.
“Oswego County is facing some tremendous fiscal challenges when it comes to addressing the problem of homelessness and the contributing factors that precedes it,” said Executive Director of OCO and COACH Committee co-chairperson Diane Cooper-Currier. “Basic needs are rising while funding is decreasing. There is a real need for additional services to the homeless such as emergency shelter, supportive housing, and affordable housing that has a supportive aspect. The Point In Time Survey provides us with pertinent information that we can use as we attempt to combat homelessness. COACH is dedicated to doing whatever it takes to successfully address the issue and significantly lower the amount of homeless individuals in Oswego County.”
COACH is comprised of representatives from Oswego County’s human service agencies, local elected officials, concerned community members and government officials.
Members of the COACH committee work to raise the awareness of, and find effective ways to address, the issue of homelessness including contacting state and federal officials to plead their case and discuss the possibilities of procuring state and federal funds to help combat homelessness.
For more information on COACH and its efforts to address homelessness in Oswego County, call 315-593-1900.