Halfway house closes, sites lack of county funds

Posted at 12:43 PM, May 26, 2016

When you look inside the Canaan halfway house you see signs of a move - luggage from wall-to-wall, plastic bins stacked ceiling high, boxes filled with everything from shoes to books.

That's because Tuesday, the home will close for good after 18 years of service.

Those with Canaan Mission say they just can't help those suffering from addiction anymore without a bigger financial commitment from Erie County.

"We were the ones getting woman back on their feet," Canaan Mission President Mertle Showers said. "[We were getting them] back with their families, into jobs, into education and then to have this happen is just so heart-wrenching because this was our mission, this is what we were started for."

Showers says this couldn't have come at a worse time - while the county is in the midst of an opioid crisis.

The budget cuts started two years ago, and Showers says it's made it nearly impossible to function since.

He also says that the state mandated programs for those suffering from addiction will have a hard time helping everyone in need.

"There going to be overwhelmed because they were already full as we were leaving and now with the opioid crisis there's going to be a backup and nobodies going to take care of the people who are going to be out on the street because there's no place for them to go, literally."

7 Eyewitness News has reached out to Erie County to see why there was a lack of funding available.

They tell us in 2011 Erie County Department of Social Services reviewed shelter rates and determined the rates were not appropriate for an ongoing basis.

The county says halfway houses, such as Cannan, are not considered to be rehabilitation homes, emergency homeless shelters or transitional housing according to the inventory of the Homeless Alliance of WNY.

In 2011 and 2012, the Department of Social Services contacted Cannan and warned them about the discontinuation of funding that would come in 2014.

A county spokesperson says the Department of Social Services worked with Canaan and recommended ways of raising money but after that, it was out of its hands.