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WNY shelters struggle to find housing as mistrust grows between landlords and tenants

Family Promise of WNY currently houses six families, with more looking for help
Posted at 5:01 AM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 07:35:38-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — During the pandemic, emergency shelters across WNY saw a major increase in households seeking assistance, especially households with children.

One local shelter says they're running into a problem right now as they expect more people to ask them for help, but have no space to offer. The families they're currently helping say it's impossible to find a place to live.

"Being in a situation like this is already depressing...then you get denial denial denial...you're looking at yourself like what did I do wrong," said Diashacika Bowler of Buffalo.

With five kids and two jobs, Bowler's schedule is packed. On top of that, she goes to five listings a day, looking for a house. She's been homeless since August of 2021 because of a domestic violence situation.

"It was either my life or basically my kids. So I chose to leave," said Bowler.

Since then, she’s been living at Family Promise of WNY, getting back on her feet and hoping to find a place of her own. She says it’s been nearly impossible.

Family Promise in Buffalo predicts more people will need their help soon
Family Promise in Buffalo predicts more people will need their help soon

"It’s been a very long process, I’ve seen over 200 homes since I’ve been here.They have you pay for the process of the application and then you hear nothing," said Bowler.

Luanne Firestone is the executive director at Family Promise and says landlords willing to take low income families are few and far between, but she doesn't blame them for being hesitant.

"[There's] kind of a block on the ability of shelters to successfully get families back on their feet and into the community because of the covid pressures that are being put on landlords," said Firestone.

Firestone says with New York State's current eviction moratorium—it’s a lose lose. If you extend it and it burns landlords, but if you end it and there will be more people evicted and looking to shelters.

"In fact people have said the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to a homelessness pandemic," said Firestone.

So what now?

As more people look to them for help—Family Promise is asking local and state government to prioritize affordable housing and incentivize landlords to rent to low income families.

Until then--she's asking any willing landlords to take a chance on families like the Bowlers.

Shelters are asking landlords to take a chance on low income families
Shelters are asking landlords to take a chance on low income families

"Just have faith and pray that eventually somebody will give us a house," said Bowler.

There are ways you at home can help too. They always need donations of bedding, food and toiletries. You can help families pay their security deposits to help them take that next step to getting a home.

To sponsor a family, click here.

To donate, click here.