BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Just walking around in sub-zero temperatures and windchills can be unbearable, even for a few minutes. For some people though, being outside when the winter weather and cold temperatures hit isn’t an option; it’s their life.
They’re the homeless, living on the Buffalo city streets, enduring the cold because they have no where to call home.
The city has made remarkable efforts to find housing options for the homeless; creating programs where those without homes receive vouchers, can have free and subsidized housing options immediately if they want it. Those types of programs have reduced the homeless population from 400 chronically homeless people to just 17.
“In our community, we’re witnessing there are fewer and fewer homeless every year,” said Kristin Puleo from Buffalo. “So that’s a good thing.”
When the temperatures drop and the city declares a Code Blue, efforts rise to try to find shelter, warmth and safety for those 17 people.
“I don’t want to see anyone cold,” said Puleo, a volunteer with the Buffalo City Mission. She is one of the drivers, traveling to several locations around the city where the homeless are known to hang out; bringing kindness, hoping she can help convince them to find warmth on bitterly cold night.
“We have outreach people who are famililar with handling these types of situations,” said Puleo who decided this year to start volunteering with the Code Blue outreach efforts. “We’re usually pretty good at convincing people to go to a shelter.”
Those efforts are evident, not only in the statistics reflecting the decline in chronically homeless, but also in the lack of presence. We traveled to different locations around the city where homeless are known to congregate, only finding them empty on this frigid Thursday.
“The outreach efforts are there,” said Dale Zuchlewski, the executive director for the Homeless Alliance. “The outreach workers are the guardian angels of this city.”