6/11/14: Erie County, Matt Urban Center Team Up to Provide Hope to Homeless Women and Children

Modified: January 23, 2015 2:58pm

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Poloncarz, Dankert-Maurer Join Wesolowski in Ribbon-Cutting for Hope House

ERIE COUNTY, NY—   Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Commissioner of Social Services Carol Dankert-Maurer and Executive Director of the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center Marlies A. Wesolowski to cut the ribbon on Hope House, a new emergency homeless shelter located at 586 Genesee Street in Buffalo at the site of a former daycare and banquet facility. The fifty-bed shelter for women with children will put a roof over the heads of needy families, provide wrap-around services designed to reduce trauma on the children, and work to quickly return the family to permanent housing.

“While many in the public think homeless individuals in Erie County are single adult males with a mental illness or substance abuse issues, in fact, in recent years we have seen more and more families without a home and the existing shelters had difficulty meeting their specific needs,” said County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “We are fortunate that the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center, one of our community’s premier human services agencies, also realized the need and began work on this shelter. This partnership will improve homeless services to this unique population.”

A quarter of the emergency shelter placements Erie County made last year were families with children. Erie County has a legal responsibility to provide temporary housing assistance to individuals and families with an immediate need for housing, and fulfills this obligation by placing individuals and families into emergency shelters, such as Hope House, on a per-diem basis. The new shelter has undergone significant remodeling over the last several months to make it a safe place for families. Sleeping rooms will feature moveable partitions, allowing each family that stays at the shelter privacy while allowing the site flexibility in providing adequate space for different-sized families.

“Every day I count my blessings, I wake up in a warm comfortable bed, there is a roof over my head, my home is safe and secure, I have a family that loves and supports me, I have enough food to eat and clothes to wear.  All of my basic needs are met.  I just wish that the same could be said for many of the families that turn to the Matt Urban Center for help,” said Marlies A. Wesolowski, Executive Director of the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center. “Life is tough enough without having to make the choice between feeding your children or providing them shelter. With the establishment of Hope House, fewer homeless mothers will not have to make that choice.” 

In addition to Hope House, the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center also operates the Hope Center, which offers a full array of services and support to homeless or near-homeless individuals and families. Hope House residents will be able to access resources at the Center such as job training, employment counseling, and budgeting.  The Center also has established relationships with over 30 agencies to provide additional services.

“Homelessness is often a traumatic event for a child, and negatively impacts their chances for future success,” said Commissioner of Social Services Carol Dankert-Maurer. “Hope House will be a kid-friendly facility and will give children access to a wide array of services, reducing the trauma they may feel. This facility will help to put needy families back on the path towards self-sufficiency.”

For more information:

On the Erie County Department of Social Services: http://www2.erie.gov/socialservices/

On the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center: http://www.urbanctr.org/