Street Outreach Coordinator for the YWCA in Binghamton, Rebecca Rathmell is the guest on the weekly local public affairs program, Southern Tier Close Up to offer a better insight into how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting a specific vulnerable population in the area, Broome County's homeless.

Binghamton Mayor Office photo

Rathmell, who has been working on housing and homeless issues in the region for many years, says the current situation is proving to be eye-opening for many people as the rapidly changing economic circumstances have thrown unexpected numbers into the ranks of those possibly at risk for facing housing issues.

While the YWCA, Social Services and other agencies have been working to get existing vulnerable residents into safe shelter, many times through a program that uses donations to temporarily place people in hotel rooms, there is also work to find long term solutions to a lack of affordable housing in the region.

Rathmell says while food insecurity also remains a looming issue, food banks and pantries, through the generosity and support of the community have been managing to help the large increase in people showing up, many for the first time in their lives, to receive help.

For information on the work of the YWCA or to make a donation to help to temporarily shelter someone in need in a hotel room for a few nights, go to ywca.org.

Southern Tier Close Up can be heard Saturdays at 12:04 p.m on News Radio 1290 WNBF.