NORWICH – Over 13 percent of families in Chenango County are living below the poverty level. Some have hard times meeting their most basic needs, but thanks to programs funded by the Chenango United Way, services are in place to help families through the hard times and help them toward achieving their goals of self sufficiency.
In March of 2005, the Chenango United Way did a community needs assessment and identified four categories of need in Chenango County: poverty issues of housing and hunger, programs for the aging population, programs for children and youth and access to healthcare.
Programs that address the basic needs of obtaining shelter and food fall into the poverty focus area.
“As one of the four main focus areas identified in the needs assessment, the issues addressed by programs funded in this focus area (poverty issues of housing and hunger) are assisting people with some of the most basic needs we have – shelter and food,” said Community Co-Chair Karen Sastri.
Following the 2006 CUW campaign, $93,746 was allocated to fund six programs that addressed the poverty issue in Chenango County.
One of those programs was the Transitional Housing Program through Opportunities for Chenango. “The Transitional Housing Program serves working families with dependent children who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless,” said Gary Quarella of OFC. Although homelessness doesn’t seem to be as prevalent in rural areas like Chenango County, a point-in-time survey of homelessness in the county identified at least 73 homeless individuals in Chenango County on one specific date. Quarella pointed out that the face of homelessness is not what people may think. “Two years ago, over 40 percent of families at risk of becoming homeless were households where at least one of the adults was working,” Quarella said.