“Buffalo Only Has 25 Chronic Homeless People Left To House.” – Huffington Post
That’s a significant statistic when one considers that Buffalo is one of the poorest cities in the US. Fortunately, there has been a significant concerted effort to resolve a problem that most cities face – what to do with the chronic homeless population. Buffalo’s success in this department has warranted a closer look by the Huffington Post. The article leads with, “The homelessness rate has dropped by nearly 95 percent.”
The concerted effort has been successful thus far due to some “out of the box” measures that have been working according to plan. This holiday season, the Homeless Alliance of WNY and the WNY Coalition for the Homeless asked Buffalo landlords to participate in an initiative called “A Home for the Holidays”. Pushes like this are directed towards finding homes for the few remaining chronic homeless people still out on the streets. The program relies on finding affordable apartments. Incentives for landlords include rental subsidies and case management strategies.
If Buffalo manages to find housing for each and every chronic homeless person, the city will have tacked President Obama’s national goal two years ahead of time.
Even Buffalo businesses are getting onboard with the directive. On December 22, D’Avolio (a downtown restaurant – 535 Main Street) raised over $11,000 to help the homeless. The restaurant held an inaugural fundraiser called “Olive Thy Neighbor” to support the efforts of Harbor House Homeless Resource Center located in downtown Buffalo. The community stepped up to the plate for the occasion. The original goal was to raise $1000 to feed the homeless. After surpassing the mark by 10 grand, the effort ultimately helped the agency to purchase a building to house the homeless.
“This is beyond our wildest dreams; we are actually able to help homelessness in a far more impactful way. We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the local business community,” said Nancy Singh, Agency Director.
Hopefully these advancements in resolving Buffalo’s chronic homeless issues will in turn help to curb the abrasive panhandling epidemic that Elmwood and Allentown faces. The panhandler problem this past summer was worse than ever. It was hard to walk near Bidwell Parkway without being accosted by demanding panhandlers that don’t take “no” for an answer. Same with Allentown.
The panhandling issue has also been brought to light by the Chippewa Alliance – I have heard that the group is considering posting stations where people can drop some coins into a box. The money would then be delivered to organizations that help to feed and clothes those in need. I think that this is a pretty good idea. I would rather drop a couple of bucks into a box that I knew is going to help those who are hard up (for the right reasons). I never give money to panhandlers because I don’t know what they are going to do with it. Giving money also means that they begin to rely on those who do give, which accentuates the problem. There is a concentration of social services in Downtown Buffalo that help to feed and cloth the homeless. And now there are even more opportunities to seek shelter.
Aggressive panhandling drives customers away from supporting urban business districts. People sitting on patios in the summertime are easy targets. It’s a pervasive issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. It would be nice to see the issue taken care of in a sensitive and sensible manner. Hopefully solving the chronic homeless issue leads to new creative directives in the realm of chronic panhandling, as there are no regulations or corrective measures in place currently.