Home is a fundamental part of daily life for most of us, made even more special during the holidays when it’s filled with warmth, food, family and friends. Whether home is the space you reside in every day, or the house you grew up in, or the place you spend a full day traveling to get back to gather with family at the holidays – home has a special meaning. It’s where we return to rest after a long day. It’s where we go for shelter and comfort. And for many of us, home is a given – a place that so often gets taken for granted.
It’s hard to imagine living a life without a home, especially during the holiday season. Four years ago, there were 400 chronically homeless individuals in the City of Buffalo who called the streets their home. “Chronically homeless” individuals have disabling conditions and have been continuously homeless for a year or more, or have experienced at least four episodes of homelessness over the last three years.
Thanks to the work of the Homeless Alliance of WNY, the WNY Coalition for the Homeless, housing providers, human service agencies, and some very compassionate outreach workers, today there are only 25 chronically homeless individuals still in need of homes. These groups institute Cold Blue during the winter to help shield those living on the streets from Buffalo’s harsh winter weather and they’ve worked to increase the number of permanent supportive housing beds to keep those individuals sheltered throughout the year.
Now, the Homeless Alliance and its partners are asking landlords in the City of Buffalo to help them give the remaining 25 chronically homeless individuals a place to call home. These individuals will be given rental subsidies and case management in order to mitigate risk to landlords, and to help the individuals maintain their housing. The support systems are already in place – all that is needed is more landlords to open their doors to those whom most have turned away from.
“We have had enough people die and lose their limbs due to frost bite,” said Jason Flores, Outreach Committee Co-Chair. “With Buffalo on the rise again, there is no reason why this problem should exist. There are landlords and property managers out there looking for tenants to fill their vacancies. We have those tenants.”
Buffalo’s big comeback continues to excite us and give us hope as we watch it unfold, but we have to continue to raise the question of who is benefitting, and who is being left out. We can’t keep building anew without fully addressing the social problems that still exist at the City’s foundation. This is an opportunity for Buffalo and all of Western New York to gain even more positive attention for a noble reason – by ending chronic homelessness in our communities.
Landlords who are interested in learning more about how they can help can contact the Homeless Alliance of WNY at 716-853-1101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .