Homeless, not hopeless: The Search

By Perry Russom

February 6, 2014 Updated Feb 6, 2014 at 5:13 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) They have no address, no place to call home. In 2013, nearly 950 people were listed as homeless in the Greater Binghamton Area.

Every year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires a count. This time around, it was done during the coldest days of the year.

Rebecca Rathmell from the Whitney Place Rescue Mission led a search group of four.

"When you spend enough time out here, you learn how to not be found," said Rathmell, program manager at the Rescue Mission as she high-stepped over tree branches by the Susquehanna River.

Counts are conducted over a ten day period from emergency shelters to the streets.

During just one day last year, 230 homeless people were found.

The team checked in all the popular places the chronic homeless hang out.

Rathmell said abandoned building are common places for the homeless to shelter in the bad weather, like the former Travel Inn on Court Street.

There, they found broken windows wrapped around the motel where makeshift beds were setup inside.

"Looks like there's some evidence over here," a volunteer counter yelled.

He spotted a collection of tables, mattresses, microwaveable food trays and an empty bottle of alcohol.

The search stretched beyond the motel to the train tracks.

On their backs, they carried orange drawstring bags filled with supplies if they do find anyone.

"Most don't have tents, so we're looking for tarps," said Rathmell. "I think we're going to probably see more under the bridges."

The Tompkins Street Bridge is considered a safe haven for the homeless.

"We've got blankets," said Rathmell.

Under the bridge, empty beds wedged next to the cement. They would resume the count at night hoping to find the people who claimed the spot.

The total number of homeless counted in the area won't be ready for the next few months.

This is part two in a series of reports on the homeless in Binghamton.

Click here to access Part One: Homeless, not hopeless: Whitney Place Rescue Mission
Click here to access Part Three: Homeless, not hopeless: Beyond the label