ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Perry Jones, the Executive Director of the Capital City Rescue Mission, says that any sweltering heat above 90 degrees is known as “code red” in the homeless community.
Helping the homeless survive the heat has been a standard for the shelter for many, many summers. “We’re full every night,” said Jones on Thursday as Albany reached a record-high of 99 degrees. “Some of these people are really struggling. We have 240 people staying here.”
The destitute can find air conditioning, ice water, showers and overnight stay at Capital City. “The rain and storms cooled it off a little, but it is still very hot,” Jones said.
According to the Homeless Shelters Directory, there was an estimated 750 homeless people in Albany County in 2019. Jones, who runs City Mission with his wife, Sue, says that the displacement number right now is likely between 500 and 700 individuals.
“The current state of the economy and housing evictions keep the numbers up,” said Jones. “We don’t try to second guess as to why someone needs to come here, we just try to help. We don’t want them to be homeless forever. We can help them with transitioning, too, but emergency sheltering is a necessary component.”
The City Mission, which Jones says serves 800 meals per day and provides free clothing, is one of six functioning shelters in Albany County. The other five are Salvation Army Albany Corps, Homeless and Travelers Aid Society (HATAS), St. Charles Lwanga Center, Albany Emergency Shelter and the Sheridan Hollow Drop In Center. The Mercy House closed about one month ago, Jones said, due to staffing and financial issues.
The next Albany Planning Board meeting is on August 9 and Jones expects to be there to ask for expansion measures for the City Mission. “We want this to be more dignified,” he concluded. “It has been tough sledding.”