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Homelessness in the summer time
TROY -- Homelessness is a year-round concern, which is why the Unity House of Troy, Inc. continues to expand and change lives.
Since 1971, Unity House has grown to meet the needs of those living in Rensselaer County and surrounding communities. Unity House of Troy is part of a Homeless Services Collaborative made up of organizations that work to serve individuals at risk or who are already homeless.
"Unity House like many nonprofits helps people, but the difference is it is always working towards fresh and innovative ways to address the symptoms of poverty and avoid homelessness," says Director of Poverty Services, Christine Nealon.
Many aren't aware that the spring/summer months are the peak months for homelessness.
"People are typically more aware of the issue of homelessness during the winter months as the risk of frostbite and death loom over those living on the streets or places not meant for human habitation. While we perceive summer weather to present less threat to individuals experiencing homelessness, it does create other problems," says Nealon.
Nealon says it's because landlords and utility companies are less willing to work with individuals who get behind on their rent or who have their power shut off. Children who receive free breakfast and lunch programs are now home without those food programs.
Summer is just as dangerous as winter, as dehydration because of the heat and humidity replace frostbite. The heat also complicates asthma, diabetes and other medical concerns.
Homelessness is a symptom of poverty. Someone working full-time at minimum wage earns $290 a week, or juts $15,080 yearly without any time off.
"This annual salary for a minimum wage earning working poor family of three is $3,000 below the poverty level on an annual basis, making it difficult to make ends meet, and increases their dependency on government assistance programs and nonprofit organizations like Unity House, says Nealon."
Unity House provides a wide range of services:
House & Support
Unity Sunshine Program
There are many ways to help or get involved:
Adopt a family
Basics for Babies
Domestic Violence Law Project
Bethany @ Unity
Safe at Home
Year End Hunger Appeal
You can also call the 24 Hour Domestic Violence Hotline
In New York State:
Unity House of Troy, Inc. is known in the community as a place where people can donate the clothing and household goods they no longer need. The staff then sorts through those items, and cleans the donations and products so others can use them.
"You think it has nothing to do with you, but our community is only as strong as the people who are experiencing poverty," says Nealon. "You should care because even if you don't morally or ethically care about that person, homelessness affects out communities and even our tax base."
Construction is slated to end October 1st for a new Unity House, which will be called the Front Door.
"The Front Door serves as a one-stop-shop. It will have all of the services and programs in one place. It will have state of the art cooking facilities, and a food pantry, which will be able to store tons of fresh produce and canned goods. It will also have a unique boutique, with donated designer clothes." says Nealon.
If you would like more information you can visit Unity House's website by clicking here.