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State resources available for Buffalo community in response to shooting at Tops

Press Releases

Mon, May 16th 2022 09:15 am

$2.8 million in funding available from New York State Office of Victim Services for additional services to victims & families

√ OVS staff will be in Buffalo this week to help victims & families access financial assistance and offer service providers details about how to obtain funding

√ Ride share services offering free rides to and from Buffalo supermarkets to address ‘food desert’ while shooting site remains closed

√ NY Project Hope Line available for crisis counseling at 844-863-9314

√ National Action Network will help with costs of funerals for all 10 victims of tragic, hate-filled shooting

In response to the shooting at Tops Supermarket on Saturday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced resources to support the Buffalo community, including additional state investments, rides to local grocery stores, and funding to cover funeral expenses for victims.

"The past 24 hours have been traumatizing for New Yorkers, and my administration will spare no effort to ensure the victims of this act of terrorism by a white supremacist are receiving all the resources and support they need," Hochul said Sunday. "The entire world is watching how we will come together as New Yorkers to overcome this unthinkable tragedy. Buffalo, my hometown, is the City of Good Neighbors, and New York state will be good neighbors for them."

Hochul has directed that $2.8 million in federal and state funding be available to provide additional services and support to individuals and families affected by the shooting. The state Office of Victim Services (OVS) will administer the funding from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, and the state's Community Violence Intervention Act, which annually designates a portion of the state's federal Victims of Crime Act funding for programs serving communities hardest hit by gun violence.

OVS staff will be in Buffalo this week to help victims and families obtain financial assistance and provide information about how service providers can access the additional funding to expand services and support for victims of violence. OVS staff will be set up in a closed location accessible only to victims and their families in order to protect victims' privacy and preserve confidentiality.

Hochul’s team said, “The agency provides a critical safety net and can pay for expenses resulting from a crime when individuals have no other way to pay for them, including funeral and burial expenses, medical and counseling costs, among other expenses, and can assist victims and families with lost wages and loss of support.

“The Office of Victim Services can cover funeral and burial expenses up to $6,000. National Action Network has offered to cover any additional funeral expenses for the families of the victims of the shooting, and New York state is closely coordinating to ensure that the money is getting to those who need it.”

Additionally, Hochul is announcing a partnership with ride-share companies Lyft and Uber to provide rides to and from local grocery stores; the site of the shooting was located in a so-called "food desert" and served as the lone supermarket within walking distance for many Buffalonians. Riders in the ZIP codes 14208 and 14209 can receive a free ride up $20 to and from two local grocery stores: Tops Friendly Markets (425 Niagara St., Buffalo) and Price Rite (250 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo). Lyft riders can use the code “BuffaloLyftUp” in the Lyft app. Uber will announce a code for riders shortly.

The following OVS-funded programs can help victims and family members file claims for assistance, and also provide crisis counseling, support groups, advocacy and other services. Any victim of crime and their family members are eligible for those services. Programs can also be found at www.ovs.ny.gov/connect.

√ Erie County Medical Center: BRAVE (Buffalo Rising Against Violence at ECMC) and SNUG

√ Erie County District Attorney's Office

√ Center for Elder Law & Justice Inc.

√ Community Services for Every1

√ Erie County Probation Department

√ International Institute of Buffalo Inc.

√ Neighborhood Legal Services Inc.

√ Northwest Buffalo Community Center Inc.

OVS provided more than $18 million in financial assistance to victims of crime and their families in 2021. New York is the only state in the country with no limit on reimbursement for medical bills or counseling, which means individuals receive help for as long as they need it. Funding for crime victims' compensation is generated by fines, fees and surcharges paid by certain individuals convicted in state or federal court.

Hochul is reminding all New Yorkers of State resources available for mental health support during this time of grief. All New Yorkers can contact the NY Project Hope Line at 844-863-9314 to speak to a crisis counselor, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. NY Project Hope Line is a free, confidential crisis hotline for mental health support that connects New Yorkers with the resources they need. Additionally, staffers from the new York State Office of Mental Health, and the State University of New York, will be available to provide counseling and support to those impacted by this tragedy. 

Over the weekend, Tops Public and Media Relations Manager Kathy Sautter said, “The Tops family is heartbroken over the senseless violence that impacted our associates and customers at our store on Jefferson Avenue.

“We are working quickly to make sure that all of our associates have access to counseling and support that they may need.

“Tops has been committed to this community and to the City of Buffalo for decades, and this tragedy will not change that commitment. We are working to find alternatives for our customers in this community while the store is closed and will provide updates in the near future.”

She added, “While the Tops location at Jefferson Avenue will remain closed until further notice, we are steadfast in our commitment to serving every corner of our community as we have for the past 60 years. Knowing the importance of this location and serving families on the east side of the city, we have taken immediate steps to ensure our neighbors are able to meet their grocery and pharmacy needs by providing free bus shuttle service.”

The schedule is 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily from Jefferson Avenue and Riley Street to the nearby Tops on Elmwood Ave.

“We are also working closely with Council Member Ulysees Wingo Sr., who represents the Masten District, to provide free food and supplies to our neighbors via the Resource Council of WNY, at 347 East Ferry St., in Buffalo,” Sautter said.

•Hochul announced flags on state buildings would be flown at half-staff Monday in honor of the victims of the shooting. Flags should be lowered to half-staff at sunrise and should remain lowered until all of the victims are laid to rest.

"The violence we witnessed at the hands of this white supremacist is sickening, unacceptable and it must stop here," Hochul said. "An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, and we must confront white supremacy head on. My heart is with our neighbors in Buffalo, the victims and their families – their legacy will live on."

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