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Count shows slight increase in Cattaraugus County homeless

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Buffalo: Count shows slight increase in Cattaraugus County homeless
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It's called the point in time count, and is used to the identify the number of homeless in the state. YNN's Mark Goshgarian tells us about the effort in Cattaraugus County to help put people's lives back on track.

CATTARAUGUS COUNTY, N.Y. — He lost everything in 2010.

"A trailer, a new car, everything inside the house," said Steven Woodruff, Olean resident.

Including his young son.

"I mean, I had to give him up. It was better for him to be somewhere else," said Woodruff.

He was living on the streets.

"Sleeping under bridges, and sleeping in parks," said Woodruff.

With no where to turn.

"I had a relapse, back into drugs," said Woodruff.

Woodruff was homeless for about a year before finding shelter at Genesis House in Olean.

"I came here and the ladies helped me out and got me where I needed to be," said Woodruff.

"When people think of homeless people, they think of dirty old men. Here at the family shelter, we have 26 to 40 children a year," said Linore Lounsbury, Genesis House executive director.

Lounsbury runs the shelter and helps people find work, health care, and housing.

"They move into an apartment they become our friends and neighbors with jobs and they're paying taxes and their whole life is turned around," said Lounsbury.

To help track the number of homeless people including those who live in shelters, the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires a point in time count be taken in each county across the state.

"It also gives us a sense of who is being served and who is not being served," said Jodi Fuller.

Jodi Fuller, COO of Cattaraugus Community Action in Salamanca, says the county's accuracy is limited by the staff available to search for those living on the streets.

"Looking in abandoned buildings, looking in parking lots for people who are living in cars and doing all those types of things," said Fuller.

This years count shows 47 homeless in Cattaraugus County, compared to 38 last year.

Fuller says the work of shelters like Genesis House is critical.

"They are really the front line in terms of getting folks off the streets and into housing and linked up with service."

Like Woodruff, now living in his own apartment, with his son.

"Without the Genesis house, I wouldn't be where I'm at, and I'm very very grateful,"
said Woodruff.

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