Saratoga County’s reputation is a bit like Lake Wobegon, an idyllic setting where there’s no crime, no want, the problems are minor and all the children are above average. It’s not a place you expect to see homelessness…and definitely not homeless families. In some ways this couldn’t be more true- we don’t see it. This isn’t a community with highly visible street homelessness. We don’t have tent cities or folks sleeping on subway grates. But we do have homelessness.
In today’s Times Union I was reading an article about local homeless families. Of course the highest concentration of homeless tends to be in urban areas like Albany, but *surprise* Ballston Spa also had 184 homeless children in 2012-3 according to the article. Many homeless families in local communities are living ‘doubled up, or are ‘couch surfing’ ,i.e., moving from one temporary place to the next without a permanent home. Other families may have exhausted all their options and are staying in motels with assistance from the Department of Social Services. Often a whole family is living for weeks or even months at a time in a single motel room without kitchen facilities. Think about that. Imagine your whole family spending months in a cramped motel, eating convenience food because you lack cooking facilities. It’s a less than ideal. Individuals staying in these DSS-sponsored motels outnumber families, but on a single recent day in Saratoga County 2 families (as well as 26 individuals) were housed in these motels.
We may not be perfect, but we can do better than this. Local groups like the Saratoga County Housing Committee are working to bring programs and services to help homeless persons…and to address gaps in services that can help prevent homelessness. In fact this group has brought $4.1 million in housing and support services to address homelessness in Saratoga County. Want to know more? Want to get involved? For more information call the Saratoga Springs Office of Community
Development at 518-587-3550 x 575