The question “Where did you sleep last night?” is one that most people can answer without hesitation. But, for many in the Souther Tier, the answer is different every day.
Between Chemung and Schuyler counties, 582 individuals experienced homelessness and received assistance in 2018. Of that total, 119 of them were under the age of 18.
Ashley Kerrick of Catholic Charities of Chemung County said “People say we don’t have homeless here. We do. There’s homeless people here. Our homeless population is very different in Elmira than other areas. It’s not what we seeon our national news. There’s not huge homeless camps where they’re all congregating together. They’re out of sight. They don’t want to be seen.”
Contrary to what some may think, homelessness is not exclusive to those without a job. “We do know in the 6 counties that we serve here in the Southern Tier, more than 72,000 people are living at the federal poverty line or below, which places them not onlyat risk of food insecurity and hunger but also we know that there are many of them living maybe one paycheck away from having it all crumble.” said Maria Strinni of the Food bank of the Southern Tier.
Not having a roof over your head is just one of many aspects of being homeless. Lack of food and clean clothes, and no support system can also take a mental toll.
Catholic Charities of Chemung and Schuyler counties is just one of many resources in the Southern Tier that works to make sure that every person experiencing homelessness, knows that they have a place to turn to.
Through their street outreach program, they regularly supply basic necessities to those in need. If you would like to help in any way, you can do so by volunteering.