BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo’s overall population is increasing but the population for the homeless community is doing the opposite. The Homeless Alliance for Western New York’s latest report shows there are only 44 chronically homeless people living on the streets. That is down from more than 400 chronically homeless people the city reported in 2010.
The Alliance says it is a collaborative effort.
“When you give a home, a house, and you work on their other issues of ‘Where am I going to sleep tonight?’; ‘Am I going to be safe tonight?’, once those pressures are taken away, people are more likely to treat their illnesses,” says Dale Zuchlewski, the executive director for the Homeless Alliance.
Providing people with a place to sleep is beneficial for the entire area, as well. Zuchlewski says when you give someone a home and that comfort, you give them proper care which keeps them out of the court system, jail and hospitals. Overall, that means less money coming out of taxpayers pockets to pay for these services.
Zuchlewski says talking with people living on the streets, building relationships and trust, is a way to make a difference.
That’s what Gino Grasso, a volunteer with St. Luke’s Mission, seeks to do every day.
“We’re serving more people than we’ve ever served,” says Grasso.
He says the people coming to St. Luke’s aren’t homeless now, some used to be living on the streets, but they all receive some form of government aid. Even with that aid, they still need help.
“The people who live around here, they’re here [in St. Luke’s]; they need help,” says Grasso, who has been a volunteer for 13 years. “A lot of them have never been given the opportunities that we’ve been blessed to have.”
With just 44 people left on the streets who don’t have homes, people – like Grasso and Zuchlewski, are working harder than ever to make a difference for those still struggling on the streets and the city.
“It is sad that there are people we aren’t able to provide for but we do the best we can,” says Grasso. “Knowing you put forth everything you can, it is comforting.”