Effort to track homeless population in Northern NY - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Effort to track homeless population in Northern NY

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"It's been shocking just how prevalent of a problem this is," said Jason Herwick of the Evergreen Townhouse Community.

Herwick is out and about looking for homeless in Clinton County. It's part of the "Homeless Point in Time Count," a snapshot of the homeless population.

"I've looked in the downtown Plattsburgh area. We've checked behind some of the local bars, local convenience stores, underneath the bridges," Herwick said.

It's a national effort to collect information on homeless, taking place the last 10 days of January, when it's the coldest. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development hopes to accurately track the number of homeless in a given area.

"Our goal is to reduce homelessness in our community and create more sustained affordable housing for all individuals," said Shauna Miller, the executive director of the Evergreen Townhouse Community.

The Evergreen Townhouse Community is spearheading the effort in Clinton County, counting the sheltered homeless, who live in temporary housing, and the unsheltered, those homeless out in the elements.

Miller says there's no one face of homelessness here.

"There are people that are working that are homeless, just unable to make ends meet. There are people with varying disabilities that have maybe worked all their lives and just found themselves in a situation where they couldn't keep paying rent," she said.

Members of the Evergreen Townhouse Community say so far they have found seven unsheltered homeless in all of Clinton County. They say the unsheltered usually pick places to go that are warm, where they can use the bathroom and get a drink of water.

"This is one of the coldest days of the year and anybody in the North Country knows it's not the best place to stay outside unsheltered," Herwick said.

During last year's count, Evergreen found seven unsheltered in Clinton County. Herwick has not come across any unsheltered homeless in Plattsburgh this year, for which he says he's happy. He says it's his job to make sure everyone in the area has a roof over their heads.

"We're pretty much the go-to support for the homeless in Clinton County," he said.

The Evergreen Townhouse Community says anyone looking for a place to stay can come to them, where they will assist them in finding safe and affordable housing.

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