Local advocacy groups have partnered to try to end chronic homelessness in Buffalo, which they say it down significantly in recent years.
Chronic homelessness refers to individuals who have been homeless for a year or more, or who have experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years and also have a disabling condition. Experts say the number of those individuals has dramatically shifted from 400 four years ago to only 25 today.
Christine Slocum, a research analyst at Homeless Alliance of Western New York, says the “Housing First” initiative recognizes that having a home is necessary for survival.
"It used to be presumed that if you were homeless, you would need to get skills before you could maintain another housing. Now, it is understood that housing is a foundation for getting everything else you need in life in order. So, it’s much easier to find a job when you have a place to live. It’s easier to treat your medical conditions if you have a place to live. Housing is a big deal,” said Slocum.
Slocum says advocates are having a hard time finding scattered housing from landlords, which are housing units that are separate from each other. She adds that their current landlords have positive relationships with their members and without space, the homeless continue to live on the streets.
“These clients come with a voucher that is guaranteed payment. It is HUD-funded from the government. They receive case management as well, so if a landlord were to house someone who was chronically homeless, they would receive guaranteed payment. If something went wrong, they can call the case manager to help resolve the problem,” Slocum added.
Dan, a recently housed individual, spoke at a press conference about the wonders that a home provides. Slocum says many other share his sentiment.
“He just kept saying 'It’s huge!' It’s huge to have, to be able to go home, to take a shower between job interviews, to have a place to start. In his words, to become a productive member of society again,” she said.
Anyone who wants to contribute or has a housing unit they are renting is asked to contact the Homeless Alliance at (716)853-1101 or www.wnyhomeless.org.