Aid for homeless assistance services, food pantries coming to communities in Erie County Community Development Consortium
$1.5 million in Emergency Solutions Grants, $320,000 in food pantry assistance, $100,000 in housing counseling services to aid local communities
The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning announced $1.5 million in Emergency Solutions Grant (“ESG”) funds from the federal CARES Act is coming to Erie County to be used for emergency shelter services for the homeless and potentially homeless populations, along with $320,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant (“CDBG”) funding from the federal CARES Act for local food pantry assistance, allowing much greater outreach into many of Erie County’s rural areas. The ESG funds will provide resources to nonprofit agencies involved in homeless prevention activities, such as the Homeless Alliance of WNY, to help mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic locally.
“This funding provides vital support to county residents who are facing housing- or food-related challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said. “The economic impacts of the pandemic have been far-reaching, affecting families and individuals across Erie County. These ESG and CDBG funds will help to manage these challenges and provide residents with the supports they need.”
Homeless assistance services utilizing the $1.5 million in ESG grant funding will be targeted at:
√ Rapid Re-Housing – Housing relocation and stabilization services and/or short-and/or medium-term rental assistance as necessary to help individuals or families living in shelters or in places not meant for human habitation move quickly into permanent housing and achieve stability.
√ Homeless Prevention – Housing relocation and stabilization services and short-and/or medium-term rental assistance as necessary to prevent the individual or family from moving to an emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation. Eligible participants are those who meet criteria under at-risk of homelessness definition or category 2, 3 or 4 of HUD’s homeless definition.
√ Shelter Expenses – Shelter operations, including maintenance, rent, repair, security, fuel, equipment, insurance, utilities, food, furnishings and supplies necessary for the operation of the emergency shelter. Where no appropriate emergency shelter is available for a homeless family or individual, eligible costs may also include a hotel or motel voucher for that family or individual.
Homeless Alliance Executive Director Dale Zuchlewski said, “In these difficult times, the county has stepped up to provide needed shelter for the most vulnerable people, which is a national best practice model that resulted in very few homeless people contracting the COVID virus. These funds will now allow us to house people and prevent their homelessness.”
Housing Counseling Services will also receive $100,000 in funding, helping nonprofit housing counseling agencies to assist residents who are currently rent or mortgage-burdened. Services will include individual client counseling for rental assistance, one-on-one counseling for rental and homeless prevention, and other financial literacy strategies.
Also included in the CARES Act funding is $320,000 in food pantry assistance to be invested in 21 food pantries in the consortium area. Each pantry will receive funding for equipment (fridges, freezers, racks, shelving) and food through FeedMore WNY. Pantries receiving assistance include:
“While hunger always has been prevalent in Western New York, the pandemic has dramatically increased the need for food assistance in the community. In fact, 150,500 Erie County residents may be struggling with hunger this year due to the COVID-19 health crisis,” said Tara A. Ellis, president and CEO of FeedMore WNY. “The generous funding through the CARES Act will allow FeedMore WNY to support our partner pantries with much-needed food and equipment as they open their doors to our neighbors in need. We also are grateful for the CARES Act funding for our Meals on Wheels program, which will enable us to provide more nourishing meals to the 3,500 homebound Erie County residents who rely on this critical service.”
In addition, $80,000 in funding will be provided to FeedMore WNY’s Meals on Wheels program to support its services in the Erie County Community Development Consortium area, which includes the cities of Lackawanna and Tonawanda; the towns of Alden, Aurora, Boston, Brant, Clarence, Colden, Collins, Concord, Eden, Elma, Evans, Grand Island, Holland, Lancaster, Marilla, Newstead, North Collins, Orchard Park, Sardinia, Wales and West Seneca; and the villages of Akron, Angola, Depew, East Aurora, Farnham, Gowanda, Lancaster, North Collins, Orchard Park and Springville.
The Erie County Community Development Consortium is comprised of 34 municipalities that receive HUD funding through CDBG, HOME and ESG grants to assist low-income residents. Grant allocations are awarded to Erie County because the population of the 34 municipalities in the consortium is over 200,000.
Funding for these community development grants is directly distributed by HUD to municipalities in Erie County with a population of more than 50,000. In Erie County, the towns of Amherst, Tonawanda, Cheektowaga and Hamburg and the City of Buffalo receive these community development grants directly from HUD.