Homelessness on Long Island is a bigger issue than you may think. With the downturn in the economy, rising foreclosure rates, and the increase in the cost of living, there are many families that are just one paycheck away from becoming homeless. There are also many Long Island families who have lost their homes to superstorm Sandy’s wrath. Both Nassau and Suffolk counties have programs in place to help shelter and feed the homeless but both counties have inherent problems with execution.
The quantity of homeless people on LI is up by approximately 18% in the five years following Wall Street’s crash of “08. Numbers rose from 2,639 in 2009 to 3,123 in 2013, but are thought to be even higher than reported. Many of the homeless do not use the services of shelters and don’t want to be counted for fear of various repercussions including deportation. And even though there are many who chose not to utilize the (approx..) 100 shelters on Long Island, there are even more who do seek shelter and are turned away because of lack of available space. The increase in homelessness has caused much anxiety for residents who worry about aggressive panhandlers, and new “mega-shelters” being built in their communities.
Most homeless that are not eligible for, or choose not to, take advantage of the county’s shelters wind up finding shelter in vacant houses and train station waiting rooms – but many are living on the streets, literally. The average life expectancy for those living on the street, is decades younger than the average life expectancy in the US at between 42 and 52 years old. Some homeless people consider suicide or being thrown in jail as a viable option to trying to survive another winter on the street.
With the holiday season upon us, now is a great time to show even more compassion for the unfortunate. With the economy being what it is, and many Long Islanders struggling to pay the bills, donating your time may be the best way to show how much you care. There are many shelters, charities, organizations and food pantries that need extra help, especially during the holidays and the cold winter months. Here are just a few that you can call with an offer of assistance:
Haven House Bridges Inc
Long Island Cares Inc
Long Island Coalition for the Homeless
The Veterans Place