"There are 668 families in Oswego County on a two-and-a-half-year waiting list for housing assistance, according to Dona Lee Falciatano, coordinator of the Oswego County Housing Assistance Program (OCHAP).
"OCHAP helps recipients pay for rent, but, in the cases of the poorest, the organization will also help pay for utilities. Falciatano said the program deals with a variety of people in need of financial help, including many of those protected under the Fair Housing Act: the mentally ill, the elderly, the disabled and individuals with low income.
"Those that qualify for assistance have income levels that fall under the $13,350 poverty line, according to Falciatano.
"However, regardless of the statistics showing the levels of poverty in the county accounted for, there are no immediate homeless shelters or relief programs for the Oswego residents most in need.
""There is a definite need for shelters in the area," said Vickie Bouldin, manager of the Oswego Rescue Mission. "Unfortunately, the closest shelters are in downtown Syracuse and, for many people, that just doesn’t cut it."
"Bouldin said Oswego and many of its surrounding areas are still feeling the effects of the economic downturn of the early 2000s, and that there is a strong desire for the formation of a shelter in the area, but there are many complications that arise with the creation and maintenance of a shelter.
""Non-profit organizations would still need to obtain county [business] licenses, and they’d have to find a location, provide a long-term business plan to be approved [by the county], and the costs are very expensive to maintain a shelter," Bouldin said. "[Organizations] would need to hire and maintain support staff around the clock for the shelter, as well as fund for food services. There’s definitely a lot to be thought out."
"In New York State, a business license is required to operate a business and assesses many factors, including taxes collected from the business, the number of employees a business operates with and the type of business, and helps to make business owners aware of regulations in their business area.
"Even though the costs and planning would be complicated, Bouldin repeated the need for a shelter and mentioned the previous attempts of the Salvation Army, another non-profit human service organization in Oswego with services in Syracuse, to maintain one.