BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The death of a well-know homeless man in an Amherst blizzard last winter has brought to light the reality and the challenges facing the homeless in Western New York.
Erie county community and government leaders are coming together to say one life lost is one too many. And they've created a Homeless Awareness Task Force with the message "See someone, help someone."
"It is about increasing awareness and kind of bringing us all together. And it really is about looking after people that are in need," said Jean Bennett, co-chair of the Homeless Awareness Task Force.
The task force plans to equip community members and service providers with the tools needed to connect homeless individuals with life-saving resources, as well as educate and raise awareness of all citizens.
Dale Zuchlewski, Executive Director of the Homeless Alliance of WNY, said this effort is needed.
"In Western New York, homelessness isn't as obvious as it is in places like Los Angeles or San Francisco," he said. "So people almost don't think it exists."
According to the Homeless Alliance of WNY, in Erie County alone there are 5,742 people who are homeless, and 7,872 in all of WNY.
But Zuchlewski said there is some good news.
"Very few of them are unsheltered. Over the last ten years the numbers of people living out on the streets has significantly dropped," he said.
So if you see someone and would like to help, you can dial 2-1-1 to get them connected with any resources they need.