HUDSON — Columbia County doesn’t have enough space for its homeless population. Space to house the homeless is at a premium because the area does not have a homeless shelter in the area, officials said. Homeless people in Columbia County usually congregate around 7th Street Park, and other high foot-traffic areas. To date, seven Columbia County Social Services clients are being housed in Greene County. According to a 2019 study conducted by the Homeless Shelter Directory, which indexes services for the homeless by region and was created for people who want to find and donate food and supplies to their local shelter, Columbia County has 200 homeless people.
In addition, eight individuals suffer from chronic homelessness, according to the study. Chronic homelessness is defined as a condition of experiencing repeated homelessness and is often accompanied by mental illness or substance use. Despite these challenges, Columbia County has found ways to respond to the homelessness problem.
People experiencing homelessness may apply for Emergency Assistance at the Department of Social Services, and if they are eligible they may be provided with temporary housing accommodations. To help alleviate the problem of homelessness, the proposed Wellness Hub is something that will benefit Hudson for years to come once it’s constructed, officials said.
The Wellness Hub is a project that will merge supportive services for mental health and substance use problems. It will serve as a place where people can go to receive information on services offered in Columbia County, and how they can get connected to those services.
There will also be on-site services that will address basic needs such as food and clothing. Five acres of land located off Industrial Tract Road have been donated for the Wellness Hub. Mayor Kamal Johnson said having more affordable housing at every level is key to helping easing the housing crisis, which in turn would decrease the number of homeless people in the area. “I hope for the continued support of the Wellness Hub, and secondly I hope for more affordable housing at every level,” Johnson said. Elise Howard of Hudson said nobody should be without basic shelter in 2023 and that housing should be a right for all people. “Housing is a basic human right and nobody should live in America, the richest nation in the world, without housing,” she said. Randy Collier of Hudson said the city should have a homeless shelter, which might cut back on traffic in 7th Street Park and elsewhere in the city where the homeless might frequent. “As the weather gets warmer, expect to see more homeless people in the area,” Collier said. “For safety reasons they really need to be displaced elsewhere. I don’t want them to harm me or anyone else, for that matter. All these abandoned buildings and new developments coming to the area, and the city can’t fund a homeless shelter to help these people?” Columbia County Social Services Commissioner Robert Gibson , Ulster County Social Services Commissioner Michael Iapoce and Greene County Social Services Commissioner Kira Pospesel did not immediately return calls for comment.
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