Lewis County uses teamwork to address homelessness

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 6:02 PM EDT
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LOWVILLE, New York (WWNY) - This fall, groups throughout Lewis County are tackling the issue of homelessness. They’re doing it through teamwork.

As the season changes and temperatures drop, groups across Lewis County have joined forces to help keep homeless people out of the cold. And if things pan out, they’ll no longer need to rely on the hospitality of hotels.

“We recognized we needed to make a change and come up with some space that is more dedicated, that is going to be open consistently and be under our control,” said Lewis County Manager Ryan Piche.

Come fall, a downstairs room in the Bethel Church of the Nazarene will be converted into a warming center for the area’s homeless population.

“When the temperature drops below 32 degrees, we’re going to say, hey, come on in, welcome. It’s a place to be warm, maybe some food, light snacks, coffee. Get some rest,” said Nate Patnode, pastor, Bethel Church of the Nazarene.

When it opens up later this fall, the center will operate 7 days a week from 7PM to 7AM. According to church officials, guests will be treated with the utmost hospitality.

“This is going to be an opportunity not just to provide a warm space, but an opportunity to build relationships and build community as well. So we want to partner with the community. That’s why were doing this,” said Patnode.

That community connection extends across the county. The project is a collaboration between four key groups. It’s headed up by Department of Social Services. Furniture for the center is coming from Lewis County Catholic Charities. It’ll be staffed by the Northern Regional Center for Independent Living. The Bethel Church of the Nazarene is hosting it.

“That’s what I think the solution looks like long term. It’s not going to be a silver bullet. It’s going to be a lot of community partnerships coming together. Each one solving a little niche of this problem. One piece at a time,” said Piche.