Walking around in the shoes of Albany's homeless population
Mon, 20 Feb 2012 21:02:13 GMT —
Nearly one out of every 200 hundred people in Albany is considered homeless and according to the 2010 U.S. Census that number is much lower.
"We were told that when the U.S. Census Bureau was here, they spent a week surveying and trying to count the homeless and they counted one," said David Blackwell, chairman of the Albany-Dougherty Homelessness Coalition.
The Albany-Dougherty Homelessness Coalition's most recent count is between 460 and 500 homeless people but with local organizations giving meals in the thousands the reality of those numbers is likely much higher
When most people think of homelessness they think of life on the streets. So I went undercover as a homeless person to get the community's reaction. Despite the rain, hundreds of cars passed me by, many people turning their heads and looking the other way.
In the hour I was sitting on the corner, five people stopped to offer help. I would have been given about $12.00 and an umbrella from someone who did not have any cash. I did not accept anything during this experiment, instead I asked that they donate it to a homeless shelter.
But the reality of homelessness in Albany is many people do not live life on the streets.
"The problem is they're homeless, that's the only problem, they have no funds to pay for a place to stay," said Mark Joseph, a homeless person.
A person is homeless simply if they do not have a permanent home. They could be living on the streets, or in a shelter, motel or in someone else's home. People can easily get missed during a count which is why an exact number can be so difficult.
Albany offers many resources for these people to get back into the community. Nearly every day there is a place people can go for a free meal. Other organizations help the homeless find transportation, work and offer things like a hot shower and a place to wash clothes.
"People can come and have hope of getting things and maybe getting back on their feet, moving towards the right direction," said Mac Collins, a Daycenter Monitor at A Place 4 Hope.
Many homeless people shared the hardships they face daily being homeless. Things like constantly walking around without a good place to rest and always carrying your belongs wherever you go. Things many people take for granted each day.
"It really just wears your mind down as well, it starts to wear at your motivation, it starts to break you a little bit," said Joseph.
Homelessness is an overwhelming problem in this area. Many organizations feel the community does not understand how to help. Corporation and collaboration are what they say needs to be done.
"The problem is too big for one organization, the problem is too big for one person but we believe that we can be part of the solution and we want to partner with everybody out there," said Capt. Douglas McClure of the Salvation Army.