This week the annual Project Homeless Connect took place at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. The event is produced and hosted every year by the Western New York Coalition for the Homeless to provide a wide variety of services for those in need, all in one place.
The convention center was filled with a number of different agencies that lend a helping hand to citizens in need.
“We have over 80 service providers,” said Nadia Pizarro, co-chairperson of the WNY Coalition for the Homeless. “We have one room that is just devoted to medical and insurance and then we have another room with other supportive services from neighborhood legal services, department of social services, HUD. We have all types of services to immediately connect people”.
Some other readily-available aids included housing and shelter services, employment services and financial and public benefit services, along with services like bike and wheelchair repair, haircuts, and meals. All of those services are provided free of charge.
The event has been a success over the years, according to coalition chairperson Kathleen Heim.
“Ten percent of our volunteers have identified as previously receiving services at this event,” Heim said. "These are individuals who came to this event, received services, were able to improve their situations and wanted to give back the next year and that is my hope for everyone receiving services”.
Mayor Byron Brown was also in attendance to show his administration’s support for the event and the city's fight against homelessness.
“In this fiscal year, the City of Buffalo will donate over $1.1 million to 14 different programs that aid our homeless,” said Brown. That number includes $5,000 for this year's event.