Homelessness is Declining in CNY despite COVID-19
Homelessness is declining in Central New York despite the COVID-19 pandemic. According to an annual report put together by the Housing and Homelessness Coalition of Central New York, there has been a five year decrease in total homeless numbers and first-time homelessness.
Long Term Homeless Administrator Sarah Schutt said the decline has accelerated following the start of the pandemic in Onondaga County.
“One thing to note though is that there is a much bigger space in between 2019 versus 2020,” Schutt said. “So we were seeing a much more pronounced decline in homeless numbers across our system.”
Schutt said rehousing may become even more difficult with fewer people homeless, as fewer housing units are available for people to move into. Data Analyst Fred Hintz attributes the decline in homelessness to ongoing moratoria preventing evictions for COVID-19 related income loss. Hintz expects an increase in evictions when the moratoria ends.
“There will be an increase in people applying for emergency shelter assistance across the continuum of care when those eviction moratoria end,” Hintz said. “And we expect that this increase will especially affect some people who are already housing vulnerable. Those people are concentrated in some sections of Syracuse and Onondaga County, in Oswego and Oswego county, and in Auburn and Cayuga County.”
Hintz said rehousing efforts have shifted to accommodate COVID-19 risk. Funds for social services intake, legal aid and rapid rehousing have all increased in response to COVID-19, in order to reduce possible exposures.
“We’re prioritizing clients who have conditions that make them vulnerable to COVID-19,” Hintz said. “Because we know that when we’re told to stay home, that’s something that’s impossible to do when you’re homeless.”
Those in need of housing assistance are encouraged to call 211, or visit 211cny.com