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How a lack of affordable housing and the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted the rise of homelessness

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 6:12 PM EDT
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(WBNG) -- Homelessness is on the rise with approximately 91,000 people without shelter on any given night, according to The National Alliance to End Homelessness.

The RISE-NY Shelter Manager Elizabeth Johnson told 12 News at the beginning of the pandemic they saw fewer people seeking shelter due to health concerns, but in recent months that has changed.

“We did eventually see an uptick in cases and with domestic violence and the pandemic, there has been such a connection between the two,” said Johnson.

She explained about half of the women who are unhoused, are unhoused due to domestic violence.

Family Enrichment Network Director of Housing Chastity McEwen told 12 News housing options in the area also play a major role in the rise of homelessness.

“Due to the housing stock, due to the lack of affordable housing we’re finding that people can’t find housing in the city of Binghamton,” said McEwen.

At this time, both RISE-NY and The Family Enrichment Network Housing Center are at full capacity, but the demand for shelter remains in high demand.

“I’m getting one to three phone calls a day for people looking for housing because there’s no availability out in the community,” said McEwen.

In an attempt to further support those in need, the RISE-NY has extended the stay period to 90 days.

But with the return of tenant fees, the problem continues to grow.

“So now we’re seeing landlords moving forward with evictions and because of that people are being evicted with nowhere to go,” Johnson explained.

Housing Directors told 12 News in order for this problem to be resolved we are going to need to see policy changes on the local and state level, as well as an increase in affordable housing options.

If you or a loved one is struggling to find housing, Shelter Managers advise residents to reach out to 2-1-1 to be directed to the proper support.