Modified: July 1, 2020 11:57am

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The Live Well Erie Housing Advisory Taskforce, authorized by Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, convened its first meeting today to begin addressing the potential COVID-19-related housing challenges that many community members could face when the New York State-imposed  moratorium on evictions is lifted on August 20. The Task Force is made up of members from the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors and is charged with developing strategies to assist residents facing housing challenges due to lost income and the coronavirus pandemic. The Task Force is co-chaired by Commissioner of Social Services Marie Cannon and First Deputy Commissioner of Social Services Karen Rybicki.


“The looming housing crisis could have potentially far-reaching destructive effects, both for people who pay mortgages and those who pay rent. I authorized the formation of this Task Force to get a clearer idea of how bad the housing crisis could be in Erie County, and also to assist those in need of help with their housing once the moratorium is lifted,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “We are all in this together and as such, the composition of the Task Force represents a wide swath of our community.”


The Task Force begins its work with a review and assessment of a recent telephone survey about housing. Survey respondents were asked a number of questions about their housing status and other facets of their household that could be affected by COVID-19. Among the questions were the following:


  • ·         Do you own or rent the place you live?
  • ·         Are you behind in payments for your rent or mortgage? If so, how many months?
  • ·         Are you behind in payments because of the impact of COVID-19?
  • ·         Have you received an eviction notice?
  • ·         Are you behind on utility payments like electricity or water?
  • ·         Have you recently lost income? If so, did you lose income due to COVID-19?


An early analysis of the survey’s findings indicated that 32% of the survey’s 1,340 respondents were behind in payments for their rent or mortgage. Other key early takeaways show that 32% of individuals had recently lost income and 43% of respondents were behind on utility payments. Additional analysis on the survey results will be conducted in the weeks ahead and will assist the COVID-19 Housing Taskforce in responding to the potential housing crisis. 


“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fragility of the safety net systems in our community.  I believe that this is an opportunity to bring together partners from across the entire community to brainstorm and develop strategies that will assist in stabilizing families facing increasing housing insecurity,” said Task Force Co-Chair Marie Cannon. “The group brings a wide range of experience, perspective, and knowledge to the issue and I look forward to working collaboratively with so many community partners to continue addressing this issue.”


Confirmed members of the Live Well Erie COVID-19 Housing Advisory Task Force include:


  • ·         Maria Whyte- Deputy County Executive, Erie County
  • ·         Karen King- Executive Director, Erie County Commission on the Status of Women
  • ·         Paul D’Orlando, Erie County Environment & Planning
  • ·         Karen Nicolson, CEO Center for Elder Law & Justice
  • ·         Kevin Quinn- Center for Elder Law & Justice
  • ·         Beverly Moore- Director of Housing & Community Development, Buffalo Urban League
  • ·         Dale Zuchlewski- Homeless Alliance of Western New York
  • ·         Sue Lamadue, -Sr. Planner for City of Buffalo Contract Administration Department of Community Services
  • ·         Nancy Singh- Executive Director for Restoration Society
  • ·         Sharon Ciminelli- Buffalo/Niagara Association of Realtors
  • ·         Missy Hartman-Supervisor, Town of Eden
  • ·         Pat Casilio-Supervisor, Town of Clarence
  • ·         Dan Corbitt/Deanna Easton-Housing Opportunities Made Equal
  • ·         Sandy Becker-Belmont Housing Resources
  • ·         Laurie Stillwell-CD Director, Town of Amherst
  • ·         Kailee VanBrundt-CD Director, Town of Tonawanda
  • ·         Rich Willis-CD Director, Town of Cheektowaga
  • ·         Tim Regan-CD Assistant Director, Town of Hamburg
  • ·         Chris Hull-CD Director, Town of Hamburg
  • ·         Cara Matteliano - Community Foundation of Buffalo
  • ·         Meichle Latham- Catholic Charities
  • ·         Stephanie Simeon- Heart of the City
  • ·         Grace Andriette-Neighborhood Legal Services
  • ·         Gretchen Gonzalez-Volunteer Lawyers Project
  • ·          Paul Curtin-Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo
  • ·          Rev. Mark Blue- President, NAACP
  • ·          Rev. Dennis Lee- President, Baptist Ministries Conference
  • ·          Rev. Corey Gibson- Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church of Buffalo
  • ·          Rev. Darrell Fairer-Pastor, Faith Bible Tabernacle
  • ·          Dr. Robert Silverman- UB Department of Urban and Regional Planning
  • ·          Anna Falicov- City of Buffalo
  • ·          Andrea Suilleabhain-Executive Director, Partnership for the Public Good
  • ·          Rahwa Ghirmastzion-Executive Director, PUSH
  • ·          Jocelyn Gordon-Executive Director, Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corp.
  • ·          Scott Bylewski-Director, Erie County Real Property Tax Services
  • ·         Janice McKinnie-true Bethel Community Development Corp.
  • ·         Anthony Williams-Executive Director, FLARE



Live Well Erie was launched by Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz in September 2019.  Live Well Erie has more than 90 partner organizations and is a comprehensive effort to ensure no one is left behind in Erie County’s renaissance.  Live Well Erie focuses on the social determinants of health including access to education, job opportunities, food security, and housing stability.  Racial equity analysis is a guiding principle of Live Well Erie as the social determinants of health often result in serious health disparities among people of color.  Because housing stability is a significant social determinant of health, it is appropriate for the Housing Advisory Task Force to be included in the work of Live Well Erie.   For more information on Live Well Erie, visit  


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