More than a dozen local not-for-profits who work to get homeless people off the streets are receiving money from Uncle Sam to continue their missions.
Congressman Brian Higgins announced Monday morning that 15 agencies will share a $7.75 million grant provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He made the announcement inside the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center in Buffalo, which is receiving more than $1.2 million from the grant.
"In additional to general support for homeless families and individuals, many of the agencies are targeting other specific or high-need populations," Higgins said.
Those populations include victims of domestic violence, people with physical disabilities, those with mental illness, people battling substance abuse and people with chronic health conditions.
Community Missions of the Niagara Frontier is a first-time recipient of money through this grant. That organization is receiving nearly $287,000. Executive Director Robyn Krueger said the funding will be used to support their "rapid re-housing" program.
"Rapid re-housing means that if an individual loses their house, is on the brink of eviction or something like that, maybe due to a past bill or non-payment of rent, the rapid re-housing funds are able to be dispersed that would keep the person from eviction," Krueger said.
The Homeless Alliance of Western New York reports that on any given night, based on 2014 figures, an estimated 1,115 people may be homeless in Erie and Niagara Counties. The majority of them, approximately 940 people, are in Erie County.
One of the challenges, according to the Homeless Alliance, is finding single-bedroom apartments.
"We have the subsidies to house them," said Homeless Alliance executive director Dale Zuchlewski. "It's just a matter of finding the apartments."
Advocates are confident that they're close to eradicating chronic homelessness in Buffalo. Last fall they reported that about 25 people remained chronically homeless. Zuchlewski told reporters they believe that number is down to about 20.
"Sometimes there are just some mental health issues or substance abuse issues where people just refuse housing," he said. "They don't trust government, they don't trust people in general. They become reclusive. It takes time to break through to them."
Also receiving money are: Catholic Charities ($192,245), Cazenovia Recovery Services ($550,705), Child and Family Services ($25,788), Evergreen Health Services ($218,794), Erie County Department of Mental Health ($2.7 million), Gerard Place Housing Development ($246,945), Hispanos Unidos de Buffalo ($195,162), Homeless Alliance of Western New York ($639,596), Housing Options Made Easy ($205,201), Lake Shore Behavioral Health ($436,235), Pathstone Corporation ($65,344), Spectrum Human Services ($533,816), YWCA of Western New York ($144,390).