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April 15, 2013

Plattsburgh event puts light on homelessness

PLATTSBURGH — A pallet of newspapers lay on the brick courtyard with dirty pizza boxes beside it, all drenched in the spring rain and damaged by Sunday afternoon hail.

A few SUNY Plattsburgh students huddled around coffee cups with their hoods up, preparing for the hours that lay ahead of them.

This was Box City, set up outside Angell College Center, part of the homelessness-awareness event put on by ETC Housing Corp. and the Clinton County Department of Social Services.

Student volunteers from the college’s Social Work Department arranged the shelter-less setup and, at another spot, a cot and table with a microwave and small refrigerator that represented the emergency housing provided to those who have no other resources.

Volunteers were asked to “take up residence” at 2:30 p.m. and stay until 10 p.m.

PANEL DISCUSSION

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., a panel discussion was held in Angell College Center.

Shauna Miller, ETC Housing Corp. executive director; Starr Burke, a social welfare examiner at the Department of Social Services; and Amanda Haley Beaudette, another ETC Housing Corp. employee, answered questions and talked about the issue.

Also, William McNierney sat beside Beaudette, as living proof that people can pull themselves out of homelessness.

McNierney said it was two years before he decided it was time to get himself help.

“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired,” he said.

TEMPORARY HELP

Miller said she and Burke organized the first-time event to create awareness in both the college and local community that there are people here who have no homes.

ETC — Evergreen Townhouse Community — on Tara Lane in the Town of Plattsburgh, has a dozen units that provide temporary residences for those without places to stay.

Often, Miller said, when she tells people what her job is, their response is: “There are homeless people here?”

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