OCO To Raise Awareness of Runaway, Homelessness

OSWEGO, NY – Oswego’s East Park will become ‘home’ to the homeless next month.

At its meeting this week, the Oswego Common Council approved use of Washington Square Park (East Park) by Oswego County Opportunities during November in order to raise awareness of National Runaway Prevention Month.

OCO requested use of the park to set up a display to make the public aware of runaways and the homeless in Oswego County for the month of November.

“They did this last year and we had no problems,” Mike Smith, DPW commissioner, said. “They set up the display and they checked in on it. It is for a real good cause.”

The display would consist of a large green lightbulb cut out of plywood, which is the symbol of National Runaway Prevention Month.

“The face of homelessness in Oswego County is the youth who is spending the night on their friend’s couch or the family that is staying in the home of a family member or friend,” according to Brian Coleman, OCO homeless services program manager. “In 2012, OCO assisted 897 youth who found themselves without permanent stable housing.”

OCO also plans to hold a staffed demonstration next to the display on Nov. 14 from 3 – 9 p.m.

They will place a couch in the park that OCO staff would take turns sitting on as a way of giving a true picture of homelessness in Oswego County.

Recently according to Doug Baldwin, case manager with Oswego County Department of Social Services’ Division of Mental Hygiene, the results of a recent Point in Time survey that identified 280 people in one evening and the number of homeless individuals that have received services from Catholic Charities, Oswego County Opportunities, and the Department of Social Services, combined with the other people that meet the HUD definition of homelessness but are not captured, indicate that homelessness is a serious problem in our County.