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I have a lot of respect for Rachel. She has lived outside homeless in a tent even during the cold weather and she is fighting to stay sober. What most people don’t understand is it’s nearly impossible to live homeless and not use drugs or alcohol to space.

Ithaca is a rural community in Upstate New York. Because Ithaca is a college town with Cornell University and Ithaca College, there is an extreme lack of affordable housing. People who make minimum wage can’t afford apartments and social services have a difficult time finding housing to place homeless people in.

Rachel says that this winter there has been times that the side of their tent was covered with frost and the water they use frozen. Some think homelessness is a choice. NO ONE wants to live outside in freezing weather. They just don’t have any other choice.

Rachel shares they don’t go into shelters or hotels is because people steal their stuff. She adds that they don’t have a lot but it’s all that they own.

Rachel has lived in Ithaca’s Jungle since she was released from jail. There is little to no support for people who were incarcerated to rebuild their lives after doing their time. Plus, it’s extremely hard to find a job. Rachel says having a felony on her record is hurting her ability to lease an apartment.

The good news is Rachel has a housing voucher and people like Deb Wilke from Ithaca Homeless Crisis, a group of concerned citizens taking action, are helping Rachel navigate social services and the affordable housing crisis. If you’d like to learn more about the group, here is a link to their Facebook page.

Here is a link to the tour of Ithaca’s tent encampment where I first met Rachel and Deb talks about helping homeless people in the Jungle.

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