Sunday, March 15, 2015

Programs shelter homeless in harsh winter

This historically cold winter has prompted increased efforts to shelter the homeless on the West Side.
Nonprofit organizations such as Compass House and Friends of Night People  have gone out and found homeless needing a warm place to stay.
The two organizations have formed a coalition to promote Code Blue, a program run by Buffalo City Mission and St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy.
When temperatures are below 15 degrees, representatives from the organizations drive around in designated vehicles and take those who are left on the street to shelters. The program runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. during nights the organizations consider too cold to be outside.
“We try everything possible to keep the kids and the adults, whoever we see, off the streets,” said Compass House  Executive Director  Lisa Freeman.   
With the extreme weather conditions this winter, Compass House has had a low population in its  shelter, 370 Linwood Ave., since many homeless youth would rather stay at a friend’s house rather than risk going outside.
“Homeless are staying at their heat source, unable to make it through the ice, the cold, the snow; staying at abandoned buildings, fires, wherever that may be,” said Friends of Night People Development Assistant Nicole Gawel.
Friends of Night People is located at 394 Hudson St., and is responsible for various programs that keep homeless fed, clothed and housed during the winter. The organization serves around 600 people per month. By Ryan Esguerra, Amber Rinard and Dallas Taylor