The number of homeless people in New York State is growing. Advocates helped those in need today in western New York, but setting up resources and organizations at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.
Politicians and experts also lined up to deliver a message to Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) -- more housing units are needed.
It's a message that Demetria Pritchett takes personally. The single mother of three left an abusive relationship earlier in the summer. She had been a stay at home mother, and had not job or money.
Pritchett spent a few months bouncing around the homes of different relatives and friends. "That's not a way any child shoud live, period," Pritchett says.
With her three kids, Pritchett now lives in a homeless shelter. While she's grateful to have a more permanent roof over their heads, Pritchet adds, "it's not a place where you really want your kids to be. There's nothing like cooking your own meals in your own place."
Pritchett is one of 600 people who turned to Project Homeless Connect on Tuesday for food and help.
"We need more shelter," Pritchett says. "I shouldn't be seeing people begging on the street for money."
Experts say there were 8,000 homeless people in Erie and Niagara counties in 2014. While the number of those who are homeless long-term is going down, the number of those homeless short-term (less than one year) in western New York is going up.
Elsewhere in New York State, the homeless rate is only getting worse. In New York City, about 57,000 people spend their night on the street.
At the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, State Senators Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) and Marc Panepinto, Assemblymen Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo) and Mickey Kearns (D-South Buffalo), Erie County Health Commissioner Gale Burstein and local advocates all lined up to call for more housing units.
They all are asking Cuomo to fund $35,000 supportive housing units across the state. While they admit its pricey, they say it will save public healthcare costs in the line run.
Advocates say the Cuomo administration has pledged for more supportive housing units, but not given an exact number.
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