According the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the number of homeless increased in 2017. Large urban areas like Los Angeles and New York City saw the biggest jump, and homelessness continues to be a serious problem in Western New York.
The Buffalo City Mission reports that an estimated 5,500 individuals are homeless in WNY - with over half experiencing homelessness for the first time. While homelessness affects people of all races and backgrounds, the reasons for being homeless are varied:
28% due to housing (fire/foreclosure/eviction)
21% due to other reasons
17% due to health (mental health/disabilities)
14% due to household disputes
12% due to economic loss (loss of job / income)
8% due to domestic violence and other family issues
"There are days when I don't want to wake up," said 30-year-old Ashley, who found herself homeless in July after being evicted and losing her job. After dealing with a drug addiction, financial problems, family issues and now homelessness, Ashley said she cries on a daily basis knowing her life as fallen to this point.
The Buffalo woman (who asked to only use her first name) told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly that she uses library resources everyday to try and find a new job. However, Ashley said she has found that once people hear you are homeless, they tend to look down on you.
With only $2 in her pocket, Ashley now uses a free program offered through the Durham Memorial A.M.E Zion Church in Buffalo to get get food and a shower on weekdays.
Ashley agreed to share her story to let people know how quickly someone can find themselves without a place to live - and how devastating emotionally it can be.
Rev. George Woodruff, pastor at Durham Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, said his church continues to see a big need to help the homeless, especially single parents with children.
Ed Reilly has more in his report.