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The Changing Faces Of The Homeless

2010 National Survey
Courtesy of Rescue Mission of Utica

Utica, NY (WIBX) – A national survey about the homeless is revealing a stark reality for many families. The Rescue Mission of Utica just released some figures that shows the number of homeless people across the country is on the rise.

According to the report organized by 85 Rescue Missions throughout the country, high employment rates and personal financial turmoil have contributed greatly to the rising number of the homeless population especially from a particular demographic. Reverend Bill Dodge, Executive Director at the Rescue Mission of Utica said the new figures puts a different face on the homeless, and that face is one of intact families. He said, “Here in the Utica area we find that the nationwide trend toward chronic homelessness is not as severe but what that means is that a lot of the people that come through our doors either have not been homeless ever before, or have been homeless for less than a year.”

Nationwide Statistics

Rev. Dodge said the national survey shows that 69% of the people that came to a shelter last year have never been homeless before, 82% of them have been homeless for less than a year, and 90% of them have been residents for more than 6 months. He said, “So it’s not like we’re dealing with people going through a revolving door–we’re dealing with people who for the first time in their lives have had to face, ‘I’m homeless.’” He said the figures are showing that these are not transient people but families  going through tough economic times. The survey also found that 57% of those needing assistance are women and children.

The Rescue Mission of Utica figures are as follows:

  • 5% of those served are older than 65
  • 35% are 46 – 65
  • 33% are ages 36 – 45
  • 16% are 26 – 35
  • 7% are 18 – 25
  • 4% are youth and children under 18

According to the report the Rescue Mission of Utica houses 130 people in its Addictions Crisis Center, Recovery Treatment Program, Homeless Shelter, Transitional Housing and Mental Health Outreach, on any given day. Rev. Dodge said the mission assists nearly 1000 individuals throughout the  community with issues ranging from financial budgeting to food and clothing assistance. Also, more than 130,000 meals are served to the hungry each year.

Funding

The Rescue Mission of Utica counts on donations from individuals and organizations. Rev. Dodge said about one-third of the Mission’s funding comes from donations. The figures from sources of support show that 39% comes from the Government, 34% comes from the Mission’s Rental Income and 34% comes from donations and Grants.

Rev. Dodge said, “The Rescue Mission can not survive without the help of people sending in gifts and donations and through the help of local businesses.” He added that other ways to help is through volunteering. The Mission is open 24 hours every day and Dodge said, “Office skills that people may not think we need–we need all the time.” Also, clothing and food items are always needed. He said, “Also monetary donations as you hear from our appeals. You can go to our website and contribute anytime.” People can also donate their vehicles to Cars For Charity and the Mission will get a proceeds from the gift Dodge said.

How Funding Is Used

According to the Rescue Mission’s report, 6% of its funding goes toward fundraising, 12% goes toward Administration and 82% goes to supporting program services. Also, a new book by local Author David A. Siegenthaler titled, Reaching Out…Changing Lives, “paints a picture of the economic and religious times in Utica that led to the Mission’s founding in 1891″ and, Dodge said the 100 page book, which was recently released by First Presbyterian Church of Utica provides an overall view of the Mission’s advocacy and work that made it a vital source of support for the needy in the area.

For more information visit www.uticamission.org or call the Mission at (315) 735-1645.

WIBX’s interview with Rev. Bill Dodge:

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