Philanthropists estimate thousands homeless in Albany

Albany Rescue Mission offers meals five days a week to those who are less fortunate

Close to 400 people in Albany are homeless according to research by the Albany-Dougherty Coalition for Homelessness. With The Salvation Army serving more than 30,000 meals a year, they say that number is probably much higher.

"We have documented hundreds of people that meet the HUD definition of homelessness or at risk of being homeless and that goes anywhere from the hundreds into the possibly thousands of people right here in this community," says David Blackwell who is a board member with The Salvation Army.

Research by the Albany-Dougherty Coalition for Homelessness shows 48.5 percent of the homeless are men and 51.5 percent are women.

According to demographics the coalition gathered, 81.5 percent are African American, 14.5 percent are white and 3.5 percent are Hispanic. Age groups among the homeless in Albany are fairly evenly distributed, says Thelma Watson, Manager of Public Services for the coalition.

Out of the 388 recorded homeless people in Albany, 10.4 percent are Veterans, according the coalition's research.

The survey shows multiple reasons why people end up homeless, the two highest being people loss of job (24.35 percent) or family dissolution, relationship breakup or death in the family (17.34 percent).

"At the very bottom it's runaways and persons who have been in foster care and they were dismissed from foster care or they aged out of foster care and they have nowhere to go," says Watson.

But there are more places for them to go as awareness grows. On Nov. 17, a new resource center will open for the homeless that will include access to job boards.

"They'll have the opportunity to make phone calls, to use the internet to take showers, to do laundry, to get them closer to independent living," says Watson.

While there are emergency shelters and resource centers, Blackwell says it is important for the community to collaborate to further the efforts to abolish homelessness.

"Let's all point them (the homeless) in one direction as a community to this place to offer them resources and hopefully to end the process of the step they're in and move from homelessness to a homeowner," says Blackwell.

The Albany-Dougherty Coalition for Homelessness has made booklets that include phone numbers, addresses and names of resources for those who are homeless or helping the homeless. It includes information for head start centers, outreach centers, soup kitchens and food pantries. People and groups can pick booklets up at 230 S. Jackson on the third floor.