Quantifying the struggle

Life in the pandemic era, March 2021

Posted 3/3/21

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — We get it: Numbers can be boring, it can be hard to put faces to statistics, to make the experiences of others real. Personal stories help a lot, but those stories …

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Quantifying the struggle

Life in the pandemic era, March 2021


SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — We get it: Numbers can be boring, it can be hard to put faces to statistics, to make the experiences of others real. Personal stories help a lot, but those stories aren’t always possible. 

Some people worry about social media. Some feel ashamed that they need help. 

So here are people by the numbers. 

Most reports are from Sullivan County and from December 2020, the most recent generally available. 

Homelessness and evictions

Normally in Sullivan County, Family Services commissioner John Liddle told Jason Dole over at WJFF, homeless numbers are around 120 to 130 people. This year, they’re at the mid-60s to the low 70s.

The eviction moratorium is still in place in New York until May 1, and that probably explains it. Pennsylvania was under the national moratorium, but that was overturned by a federal judge in Texas, so the future for Pennsylvania’s at-risk population is uncertain. 

Any guess as to how many people in Sullivan or Wayne are facing eviction or foreclosure is just that: a guess. Solid numbers on how many cases are pending in the courts aren’t always available, but in New York, Family Services commissioner John Liddle told WJFF’s Jason Dole recently that there are 60 cases pending in Sullivan County.

The National Council of State Housing Agencies gives a national range of 6.96 million to 14.1 million people at risk of eviction.

As of February 15, in New York, the Census Bureau found that 30 percent have no confidence (10 percent) or just slight confidence (20 percent) that they can pay next month’s rent. In Pennsylvania, 12 percent have no confidence and 16 percent are slightly confident.

If you’re a landlord, small business or nonprofit, the New York Forward Loan Fund can offer a loan of up to $100,000 with a five-year term. Small businesses and nonprofits can get a capital loan to help with access to credit as they reopen. There are restrictions. Visit www.esd.ny.gov/nyforwardloans-info for more information.


In December 2019, the Sullivan County unemployment rate was 3.8 percent.

In December 2020, the rate was 6.3 percent. 

In November 2020 the rate was 5.8 percent

Nineteen percent of jobs lost in December 2020 were in leisure and hospitality, 5.1 percent in education and health, and 6.7 percent in trade, transportation and utilities. 

Caring for Sullivan County’s seniors

There are 19 people on a waiting list for expanded in-home services for the elderly, a state program that offers personal care, adult day care and transportation assistance to seniors who live on their own. There are 37 open cases and 12 of those don’t have aides. They “continue to face severe aide shortages [and are] working with existing contracted agencies to ensure coverage,” Sullivan County Office for the Aging’s report says.

The county’s department of health and family services reported 176 adult protective services cases, up 15 from the previous month. One hundred twenty-six were representative payee cases (those are people who have been given management of another adult’s finances, getting their check and spending it on their support), and 28 were guardianships (a guardian takes charge of their residential and medical needs). 

Meal delivery and care packages: This includes the elderly or disabled who can’t get out, especially in winter; the sick or potentially-sick quarantining at home. These are just office for the aging numbers; more people have been helped by private individuals or places of worship: 2,936 meals and care packages were delivered to 147 clients in December 2020.

Social services

Those in New York who are having trouble paying for regular expenses: 37.4 percent.

Those in Pennsylvania having trouble paying for regular expenses: 32.7 percent.

(source: Census Bureau Household Pulse Data, February 24)

The time-limited TANF program provides monthly payments to families with children.

For Sullivan County, the figures are:

December 2019: 

252 cases received Public Assistance, TANF (PA, TANF); 5,461 cases received non-public assistance, food stamps (NPA, FS)

December 2020: 

228 PA, TANF; 5,529 received NPA, FS

November 2020: 

224 received PA/TANF; 5,471 received NPA, FS

Medical Assistance recipients

December 2019: 

3,248 people received Medical Assistance (MA); 2,689 people received Medical Assistance plus Supplemental Security Income (MA/SSI)

December 2020: 

3,555 MA cases; 2,647 MA/SSI cases

November 2020: 

3,524 MA cases; 2,642 MA/SSI cases

Thanks to Sullivan County’s staff who produce these reports once a month. 

Sullivan County, Medical Assistance, Social services, Unemployment, Homelessness and evictions


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