Author: alyssa Perwitz
Central New Yorkers know, as year-end approaches so do frigid temperatures, icy roads and snow storms. Members of our community without stable housing are especially vulnerable in the winter. The severe weather accompanying the winter months makes finding warm shelter difficult and as the temperature begins to fall, shelters will fill up fast. Lacking warm shelter can be dangerous and fatal if temperatures drop too low. In addition to shelter, many people who experience homelessness lack seasonal essentials such as winter coats, hats and gloves to keep them warm while facing the elements.
According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, “As of January of 2020, The State of New York had an estimated 91,271 people experiencing homelessness on a given day.” For individuals lacking safe shelter and access to resources, the harsh reality of winter in Central New York adds an extra obstacle, compounding the issues they face daily. Having safe, stable housing is a fundamental and necessary first step that can lead to accessing resources that can help the person thrive and prosper.
At Housing Visions, we believe that everyone deserves a safe home to live in. Our staff and partners work to provide housing and resources to those in need. Although many of our housing developments have waiting lists, those who are homeless or living in housing that is unfit for human habitation are given preference for any vacancy. We work with and receive referrals from many local organizations whose focus is finding emergency housing for homeless individuals including The Veterans Administration, Catholic Charities, The Salvation Army, the YWCA and various other local agencies. Once housed, our partners and our Housing Stability Coordinators continue to provide access to resources and work to keep individuals housed.
Community members can help by donating care packages of warm clothes or winter accessories to a local agency, providing hot meals or beverages to the individual, and seeking out volunteer opportunities. The Rescue Mission is a Syracuse-based agency which provides emergency shelter, clothing, and three free meals every day of the year. In addition, if you see a homeless person struggling in the winter you can refer them to The Housing and Homeless Coalition of Central New York for help. Those seeking help can call 2-1-1 to be connected to necessary resources. If someone is at immediate risk, call the Homeless Crisis Intervention Hotline at 1-888-358-2384.