Mayor Byron Brown today unveiled the City of Buffalo’s Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) plan to help address homelessness and other housing issues that have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The $4.2 million in additional funding that was made available to the City of Buffalo through the CARES Act will fund direct services being provided by qualified non-profit partners throughout the City of Buffalo.Mayor Brown said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the shortcomings in the social safety net which left many of our most vulnerable residents open to exposure to the virus. This funding is an opportunity to begin closing those gaps and place residents on a long-term path to achieving a higher quality of life by either placing people in homes or helping those who have homes stay in them while also slowing community spread and protecting public health. I want to thank all of the non-profit organizations and Erie County’s Department of Social Services for working with the City to find innovative solutions to the special challenge that caring for our homeless residents posed during this public health emergency.”The ESG funding will be allocated in two different manners. The first is direct funding to non-profit organizations that have worked with the City over the last several months to provide homeless residents with shelter and immediate services as part of New York State’s response to the public health emergency. The second will be based on responses to a City sponsored Request for Qualifications (RFQ) seeking to identify partners that will work with members of the homeless population or individuals and families who are at-risk of becoming homeless in a sustained way so they can be rehoused if necessary and receive the appropriate level of case management.According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) African Americans comprise over half of the homeless population in Erie County and a quarter of our homeless residents are children under 18 years of age. A disproportionally high number of homeless residents are also single-mother headed households.Of the $4.2 million the City of Buffalo received through the CARES Act, $1.6 million has been allocated for rapid rehousing of almost 400 people, nearly $1 million in rental assistance programs to help existing tenants stay in their homes, and almost $700,000 for homeless shelter and nutritional needs programming and operations. An additional $100,000 in funding will be reserved to assist individuals who are HIV positive with their housing needs. These critical funds will be administered by the non-profit partners that the City is currently working with and those that respond to the RFQ.“Compass House is thrilled to partner with the City of Buffalo to keep the homeless young adults housed and off the streets. The City’s efforts will have a lasting impact not only for our people but for the community as a whole. Thank you for the support of this vulnerable population.” From Lisa Freeman, ED of Compass House.“Catholic Charities of Buffalo is grateful to work collaboratively with our partner agencies, including the City of Buffalo, to ensure the most vulnerable individuals and families in our City can meet their basic housing needs. During these unprecedented times, it is essential to increase our capacity to rapidly house families and prevent as many of our neighbors from experiencing the trauma of becoming homeless. These efforts will have long-term impact on our community as we all work together to keep everyone safe and healthy,” said Joyelle Tedeschi, Family and Community Services Department Director.Nancy Singh, CEO of the Restoration Society, Inc. said, “Restoration Society, Inc. is highly involved in the provision of homeless services in Erie County and particularly the City of Buffalo. We fully support the plan for the ESG-CV funding. This plan will allow timely and responsible responses to the needs of homeless in our community, resulting in quickly regaining stability in housing, consequently having an enduring, positive impact on health and safety.”M. Deanna Eason, Executive Director of Buffalo HOME, said, “Housing Opportunities Made Equal’s continued work with the homeless, and those who are in danger of becoming homeless, will be significantly enhanced by this program and the additional support that HUD and the City are providing. I want to thank Mayor Brown and his team for working with Erie County DSS and our other partners to find innovative solutions, one of which has been recognized as a best practices, to the unique challenges this emergency poses. Our organization believes that this current health crisis can lead to an increasing risk of homelessness for individuals and families who were previously more secure in their housing, while also exposing other vulnerable populations to a greater risk of losing their homes. Through this collaborative effort we will quickly address the critical housing needs of our homeless clients and provide them the resources to maintain optimal health and safety. ”The City expects additional ESG and other rental assistance or foreclosure prevention will be forthcoming and these funds will continue to supplement these and other funds designed to assist residents who have been impacted by the economic downtown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.