A dozen people found homeless in Watertown

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 5:40 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - It’s a sign of what could be a growing homeless problem in the city of Watertown. Volunteers braced the elements to look for people who don’t have a place to live and found a dozen on Thursday alone.

Those 12 people are in category 1, which means they were likely sleeping outside, in a car, or in an abandoned building. Volunteers are doing this work and giving the information to the federal government.

“Sadly, I’m going to say that it’s not quite noon and we have already identified six individuals who meet the strict HUD category of homelessness,” said Dawn Cole, the executive director of Watertown Urban Mission.

Cole says those people were identified by outreach teams who took to the streets of Watertown Thursday morning.

She says they were asked a series of questions about their current housing situation. It created a clearer picture of a growing problem with homelessness.

Cole says, “Our collective mental health is at an all time low given this prolonged period of uncertainty that we find ourselves in, in this pandemic; also substance abuse plays into it.”

She says the decreased amount of low income housing isn’t helping. What might help is what’s being handed out to people: kits with everyday essentials, free jackets and hats and a warm meal.

They also packed the care center with various community organizations who can help individuals find necessary resources.

“With everyone out here, everyone is going to get served,” says Ashley Cahill, outreach and engagement coordinator for Bridging the Gap in Watertown. “If it’s not us, it’s another agency and the more the merrier because there is always going to be clients and everyone needs to get help.”

Joshua Christie, an intern with Vets Peer to Peer Outreach Center says, “We also get to build better relationships with the community members, community services that are here so we know where we can send out vets to get support for housing, for recovery services and whatever else they may need.”

Cole says the information collected will be included in a national total. This is the second assessment the group has done recently.

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