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New resources to help reduce youth homelessness in Erie County

Posted at 4:49 PM, Oct 20, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Three organizations committed to helping others in WNY are getting a major grant to help reduce youth homelessness in our area.

The Homeless Alliance of WNY, BestSelf & Compass House have received $2.37 million in federal funding to support rapid rehousing, family counseling and a “Safe Space” overnight Drop-In Center.

A place that Mercedes Busby, a youth peer advocate, wishes she had.

"Being a youth that has been in the streets and not having a place to lay their head, and not having an opportunity to know when your next meal is coming or if you're going to take a shower," said Busby. "Being able to be at this safe space and seeing these youth come in and just being able to meet their everyday needs."

The drop in center offers a safe and secure place for homeless youth, and it has anything they might need.

"Have a meal, talk to a peer, talk to a counselor or a nurse or whoever they need to speak to, and then be linked up through the family engagement program to much needed housing resources in the community," Elizabeth Ganga, President & CEO of BestSelf.

"We finally hit the jackpot. And after all that hard work and tenacity we were successful," said Dale Zuchlewski, Executive Director of the Homeless Alliance.

According to the Homeless Alliance of Western New York’s 2019 Homelessness Summary, young people between the ages of 13 – 24 make up 17% of Erie County’s homeless population.

The funding is made possible through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program.

Details on Erie County’s projects are as follows:

Compass House | Joint Transitional-Rapid Rehousing ($1,175,818)

  • This project will provide housing support through a transitional housing site for males, a partnership to provide transitional housing for females with TRY and a rapid rehousing program to help youth obtain their own apartment in the community.

BestSelf | Safe Space Overnight Drop-in Center ($593,570)

  • The Drop-in Center will provide a safe place overnight for youth to obtain food, clothing, and other necessities as well as get linked to support and housing services. The project will serve youth ages 16-24 in Erie County and will also include expanded hours for Compass House’s Resource Center.

Best Self | Family Engagement Team ($602,532)

  • This project will focus on providing family mediation and other support services to help youth quickly resolve their homelessness or divert them from experiencing homelessness. The project will serve youth ages 12-24 in Erie County.