Buffalo’s homeless response modeled throughout New York State

BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – With the deep freezing that has settled over western New York in the past few days, getting the homeless out of the cold is even more important.

But the pandemic also poses other challenges.

When the virus hit Buffalo last March, the homeless community coordinators worked quickly to make the COVID-19 shelters safe.

Last season, Code Blue’s homeless groups used Erie Community College’s Flickinger Center as a huge space to spread out cots.

This season, these customers will be served at Lincoln Field House on the east side of Buffalo and Holy Cross on the west side of the city. They serve individual prepackaged meals so that no one stands in the food row.

And if someone is symptomatic or COVID-19 positive, that person is not allowed to enter or turn away.

Instead, they are either taken to the hospital, equipped with 2-1-1 with individual accommodations, or taken to the district’s quarantine hotel

Restoration Society’s Jean Bennett says she takes pride in the absence of COVID-19 outbreaks, and communities across the state and across the country are modeling their homeless response from Buffalo’s success.

Code Blue provided around 110 people 24/7 protection during the worst of the pandemic.
At the moment they serve about 90 people during the cold.

Lots of people looked at us. Didn’t people know you knew what you were doing? You have a population here, the homeless population is already marginalized. They are obviously at a higher risk, their hygiene is poor. Some of them don’t follow the best of rules and really need support.

Jean Bennett, Director of Housing and Homeless Services, Restoration Society

Current challenges include having the resources to keep things clean and provide PPE and clean clothing.

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