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Homeless projects to receive $7.75 million from HUD

Fifteen local service agencies will share in $7.75 million in federal funds to fight homelessness, officials announced Monday.

The funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will support programs for people in need of housing, including those who are victims of domestic and sexual violence or who suffer from mental health issues.

“This money can make a difference between whether a person lives or dies,” said Marlies A. Wesolowski, who runs the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of Western New York on Buffalo’s East Side. Her agency will receive almost $1.3 million.

Wesolowski’s agency employs the “housing first” model, which takes people off the street and gives them shelter before making them fulfill any requirements, like having to complete drug addiction treatment programs or life-skills training courses.

That approach, which started in the 1990s, has proven effective as the region is close to ending “chronic” homelessness and veteran homelessness, said Dale Zuchlewski, executive director of the Homeless Alliance of Western New York.

Zuchlewski’s organization will receive about $640,000 for its homeless management information system, a central database for clients receiving homeless assistance.

“Without this funding, I can’t even begin to tell you how many people would be living out on the streets,” Zuchlewski said of all the grants.

The latest block of funding also includes $2.7 million for the Erie County Department of Mental Health to support 500 housing units for the homeless.

The money will be used to subsidize the housing units and to provide supportive services, said county Mental Health Commissioner Michael R. Ranney.

The department’s programs for homeless housing receive six grants each year from the federal government, which total about $5.3 million. The county has been receiving HUD funding to combat homelessness since 1994, Ranney said.

Community Missions of the Niagara Frontier, which operates a shelter in Niagara Falls, was awarded about $287,000.

The funding will support the agency’s “rapid rehousing” program, which has been in place for a little more than a year, said Executive Director Robyn Krueger.

The program allocates money to people who are about to be evicted, as well as those who may be living in the shelter who have no other barriers to getting into housing, Krueger said.

Other funding recipients include Cazenovia Recovery Systems, $550,705; Spectrum Human Services, $533,816; Lake Shore Behavioral Health, $436,235; Gerard Place Housing Development, $246,945; Evergreen Health Services, $218,794.

Others receiving awards include Housing Options Made Easy, $205,201; Hispanos Unidos de Buffalo, $195,162; Catholic Charities, $192,245; YWCA of Western New York, $144,390; Pathstone Corporation, $65,344; Child and Family Services, $25,788.

The competitive grants are part of yearly funding from the federal agency.