The Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services will join human services agencies around the nation to spotlight the growing issue of homelessness in America and to recognize National Homelessness Awareness Week. The observance begins on Saturday, November 13, 2021. It has been observed for 9 days starting the second Saturday in November since 1975.
On November 10th, the Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services Homeless Unit wore bright orange "Homelessness is not Hopelessness" shirts they designed to bring attention to the issue. The department recognizes that the path to self-sufficiency involves keeping hope alive.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, in January 2020, there were 580,466 people experiencing homelessness in America. Most were single individuals (70 percent) and the rest were people living in families with children. Locally, the Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services and partners that include various county departments and community based organizations have responded to over 585 instances of homelessness, this year alone.
Despite the ongoing moratorium on evictions, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the number of people in communities like Cattaraugus County who are living in informal settings such as a friend's couch or outbuilding, who have simply worn out their welcome. The end of the eviction moratorium, which is scheduled for January 15, 2022, will likely push more people into homelessness during the coldest months of the year.
To help, donations to local homeless shelters like the Genesis House in Olean or Kinley-Hill in Salamanca go a long way. Groups or organizations wishing to make care packages and donate them to the Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services can do so by contacting Chief Examiner Michelle Zellenfrow at 716-701-3690.