Homelessness is a growing problem in Central New York. In Cayuga County alone, nearly 500 people are currently without a permanent home, but one local charity is expanding their programs to help combat the trend. Our Candace Hopkins has more now on the Rescue Mission's latest work in Auburn.
AUBURN, N.Y. -- Before the Rescue Mission opened its doors in Auburn last July, the rising number of homeless families had no where to go.
Rescue Mission Chief Operating Officer Alan Thornton said, "The homeless count in Cayuga County is 475 individuals, and out of that, 55 percent of those represent families, and at the same time there's no emergency beds for families."
In order to fill that void, the Rescue Mission started the Family Transitions Program, offering housing and educational programs, to get families back on the road to self-sufficiency.
Thornton said, "It's all about equipping these families. These are mothers and fathers that really want to provide for their children. They just need a little extra support, like all of us with a support network, these families need that as well."
The Gibson family turned to the Rescue Mission for help this winter, when great-grandmother Carmella found herself struggling to care for her granddaughter's three children on her own.
Carmella Gibson said, "We're okay now, but it was a challenge up until about the beginning of March. We had no money coming in or anything. It was hard to get food, clothes."
And most of all they needed a safe place to call home, but within weeks the family was placed in a new apartment - a change Carmella says has made all the difference for the children.
She said, "They've grown immensely since January. They're excelling in school. This one's grades have just gone, the teacher can't say enough. They've put on weight. they've grown."
And officials here say with each family helped, the entire community is strengthened.
Moving forward, Rescue Mission officials say their goal is to greatly expand their programs here in Cayuga County, including adding more rental units in this complex, in hopes of giving more struggling families a permanent place to call home.