Buffalo City Mission

On Target with Penny Wolfgang
Sunday, December 31st

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This is on target with penny Wolfgang a program that takes an inside look at what is happening in Western New York with news features and special guests. Now here's your host Tony Wolfgang. Hey everybody. Thank you so much for joining us and on target. I am your host penny Wolfgang and we look forward to talking to every week about different people in the habit of Vincent people. And activities in the community. In what's going on locally and what's going on actually nationally sometimes and most importantly. We try to cover topical subjects only you know. People and meet people that are making a difference here in western new York and organizations that we care about it and that's actually what we discussing today an organization that has done so much for us here in the community and then his may be. The services are maybe not as well known. To you with the listeners. And members of the community as they should be if you might have heard of the name and city mission. But I have the feeling that in your mind you think it's just a place where. Homeless people not just at a shelter or a place where homeless people confined. Sheltering me Ellen and warmth but really there's so much more I found out to the city mission in particularly buffalo city mission which is now. Serving people in this area for 100 years in celebrating their 100. Anniversary so we are going to be discussing services and other other matters to do with the city mission in the studio with us today is Stuart L harper mr. harper is the executive director of the city mission thank you welcome. Thanks and I leave it to be I would deathly no you job because although this is not television sadly you are beautiful red vest has a buffalo city mission. Greg I have. And I guess there's him. Yeah we entered we had our community knew today were. We had out big dinner where our staff serves all of our clients they command for lunch today and it's our opportunity is pushed them have come Merry Christmas and happy hours and Netscape. Now the bus those city mission is that is. A hundred years old you don't look a hundred years very very pickets say. Thank my traffic chairman yeah yeah obviously here I but when he started. It was I can believe. The idea that I just said it was as of like a soup kitchen right right and things have. That changed a lot since then what was the original mission you've written out. And was it was a former baseball professional baseball player's name is Billy Sunday. And he came to buffalo and he. He turned evangelists. And he raised over three week period 8000 dollars from that was the original capital that started the buffalo city mission. That was in 1916. And in 1917. Days some of that town fathers came together in May bought an old bar. There had been closed down for prohibition. And I. And that was the first place that was on Broadway which is no longer there when they built when they both the 33 it toward the building down. But that's where we started. And it was basically come infer and it's command for soup and around dinnertime. And there was an herb preacher there that would preacher. Sermon are something's during the meal and that was about it if there are some room to sleep on the floor there. But that was pretty much yet. So Billy Sunday who is famous and I think this song written about him too in the eighties. And if so I need that this was not being fulfilled in those days. Yeah and Denny left us and went to Cleveland and did the same thing and went to Grand Rapids and at the same thing and really made it is life's ambition to really. Look out for the porn in addition. In the early nineteen hundreds. And then as it started in those days was usually there was a need there was no other place or. And what their people walk in the street you think they need me I'll add a little services. You have people on the streets and as you can imagine as we get closer in 1929. Nick become worse and worse and worse so. You know the State's country was devastated and with the depression and lot of people out of work and people that normally you know had good paying jobs and more working in manufacturing facilities or. Or the like we're all put out of work so there was a huge need for. It is you know I think about it today and we've been our facilities that weren't today. Mon Topper since 1984. And that's 33 years 1984 doesn't seem 333 years ago put anything equivalents. Com. And we've been open every day but we're food shelter and clothing when I came their ten years ago that was primarily what we are focused on was providing food shelter and clothing. Eleven years ago we've built cornerstone manner which was firm women and moms. And their kids. We can house about a hundred women and approximately thirty kids depending on how many come when their moms. And that's been a tremendous facility. We are able to build that from scratch and really meet that today's needs. Many of our women come to us as a result domestic violence. But we have a lot of just currently homeless people. I think the thing that really surprised me when we we have a saying it commissioning god we trust everybody else bring data. And I am so we're looking at some of the housing data that's provided to us through some of the hot affiliates. Somebody 9% of homeless population are the first time homeless. So that really means that there's an event that causes them to become homeless. And that's really what we're focusing on in the future is that event. We're building a new building. In our location at Tupper street common our parking lot which hope to break par on in the spring. And the whole we'll have our emergency shelter and that will be designed very much like cornerstones is where it's a single bad today we have. A comment demand shelter where our emergency shelters 92 beds in one wrong. It's horrible it's not the real way to take care of people but with the alternative being the street we get as many bunk beds in that room as we can. Because with the alternative being mistreated. So calm. We really need to have the facilities out data were not able to do things we wanted to do second floor of the emirates is to shelter and those will be singled that's the third floor will be. Tom Farber for the men animated decision they really man wanna make a change in their life. And they can stay with us for as long as they're moving forward as long as they need to to really make that change so it could be up to it. Eighteen to 24 to 36 months that they stay with us. Because were privately funded more than 97% of our funding comes from private donors. We're we're not held to we can take time out of that recovery equation and really make. Fruitful changes with both arm bar women and our moms with kids and also ours our man can win this. They did just miraculous. To change that these people go through when they're really committed to wind to make a change in their life. And where their form for them and supporting them. And weeks we teamed with about 85 other agencies around the city we call centers of excellence we focus on the things were really good that. And we bring in partners to help us with the things that we don't do for example. Our moms come to us with kids. And we have great case management for the moms but we really didn't have any case management for the kids. We have a state licensed daycare cornerstone and we have a great afterschool program. That our volunteers help staff. For our school aged kids but we had no no counseling for the kids in many of the kids are gone through this the same trauma mom had gone through but in their own way. So we team up with child and family services and they provide the counseling for the kids and then and that's what they do that's their core business so. It's bringing asked experts in we don't have to duplicate the service and it's a real win win win strategy for us. For trump him services and most importantly for the kids. I just trying to rip from Owen Casey just tuning in we are talking about the buffalo city mission. And in the studio is this is Stuart L harper who is the executive director of the buffalo city mission. Which reminds me uncensored saying buffalo city mission. Do you service people only from buffalo four and is they're like city missions or something comparable to other places around the area. Yeah we we actually we have people come from all over the state is through about closely match and we have people come from out of state who's sitting mention. We have many women that are fleeing domestic violence that are coming from out of state. And this is this this is as far as the bus would take him with the money that they have their power can I mean literally people are just jumping on the bus to escape. Their assailants and and we're blessed to be here around four of them. Hum so just there are near other missions. There we belong association called the association gospel rescue missions. And there are about 280 missions around the United States and Canada. That are doing is very similar to. So just go back from it comes in time when you first started. Do I get the idea that it was just men that doesn't have it was just me out just now and then tons and they would be given originally at. Sometimes a place to stay but a meal suppan brand and is soup and bread I investigate and then how did this evolve. In two will now we've got you've got counseling for example and you've definitely got. Like rehabilitation. I have 28 men and women in college. Oh my goodness I have men and women and we have a great relationship with the ECC. And they have a great they have two tremendous programs they have their two year college program. And they also have a certificate program so we'll get a man or woman that's in their mid forties early fifties and say I you know I don't see myself going to a two year college. But I really like the certificate program what we're really trying to find is we are we believe that god has given us all a blessing them a skill that we're all good yet. And that may be working with people may be working with our hands and whatever may be. So we fine with that skill isn't and find out what living wage job is available today. That they could work out and what's he educational requirements for that job. So there are a number certificate programs your lungs to figure program CCC. Things like welding and website design and culinary arts and whatever it may be either they're tremendous programs there Tom also repayment and to do so I have a gentleman had dom tenaciously came to us. Three and a half years ago. Addicted to heroin today's finishing up his junior year and majoring in accounting and I'm going to work for one of the largest accounting firms in buffalo. Has attempt as if he's working there right now has an intern then and now they're probably mark Furman job when he finishes up. Passes instead of the season there there are it is follow through with this funnel through. As opposed to you know years ago when it was just a temporary apps idea and now you have evolved into. And not wanting people to be homeless and come back time and time again and well. Yeah and that was a very frustrating thing when I got their ten years ago was we were seeing the same people over and over again and nothing was happening and we're investing a lot of time into them and won't be you know really trying to do the things that we thought were worthwhile help them get off that train. And unsuccessfully. So we really focus we sat down as a team and really focused on what do they really need brought in the resources we needed them the relationships in the city that we needed. To really help us to uncover the challenges. And to team up with the rest of the community and mean these these M values that we have with other organizations. Really are very important for us and I know they're important for them for example we worked with John Finley services. For our moms aside discussed before but. Neighborhood legal services so somebody's getting evicted from my house. We we help with our partnership we refer them to neighborhood legal services and member legal service and represent them and housing court. But and our new building our whole first floors are going to be focused on bringing our providers into one stop. So if somebody is coming it's so. Powers so homelessness is a really lousy outcome of poverty so we're gonna reach into the impoverished sections of buffalo. And in Erie county and really reach out to them and say if you are having a problem and you think you might have an issue with the and become an house. Come to us before you comment on house. And we're really focusing on that 79%. Of the population that are first time almost if we can stop that event from happening. Then we can keep them house. We're not talking about that drunk that we see in the Ambien and retail store that's 3% of the on the spot but that it is what people assume is well we talked absolute don't you think especially with what comes your mind right away that's 300 people and there are 6100 people are homeless. So that's 300 people so that's it that's for Hud. And the city in the county are off focuses on those. Chronically homeless as they refer to the mast. Because they used most of our services there was a study done in Reno Nevada. Where graduate student thesis on and this is his name was the million dollar Murray. And Mari was homeless person in me now. And DT determined and over mares lifetime that the city of Reno. Had spent a million dollars on this guy either in incarceration in medical services police services. Social services over a lifetime as this one person. We really look at it is if we can have an impact on this 79%. Of this population. Debt is first time homeless that we can really start hitting this homelessness and our ultimate goal is to eliminate homelessness and buffalo. And we think that under this program and with the help of all these other assisting agencies. And and other organizations that we can take a big bite out of every year. What are some of the consequences you mentioned a domestic violence. Which I definitely. Is a chorus of homelessness because they and abused woman who's usually doing. Has to leave the house for safety purposes right Arial often and that tape came up with cornerstone. That was one of the big reasons for cornerstone with that but also there was really no. Corus also largest facility for women right now it's really a transitional. Unit for women that really wanna make a change in the life. For example mom came to a twenty years old. With a child pregnant. Never worked anywhere other than an a convenience store checkout. Com. Two and a half years later she graduates from our program and she's got her eight degree in social work. And she's got a living wage job and she knows how to take care for kids she knows that take care of herself. She knows how to take care and apartment she Lee says she gets off of the public dole. And she says tax paying citizen of the Erie county in buffalo so this is a win win for everybody. Everybody and it did this make indicts a huge impact on the individual but also. The community that we live in weren't these people are beat coming back into our society and becoming contributing members. Now when you mentioned Lou we mentioned you know the chat abuse and no domestic violence but what are some of the reasons that people are homeless or family problems is number one. So people are living together families are living together. And they may have an older. Person you know these the families have grown up we're not talking about kids now we're talking about adult kids. Still living of their families and and there's an a dispute in the kids end up getting thrown out of the house. Addiction is an obvious one mental illnesses and obvious ones you know particularly. Undiagnosed mental illness. Where people go into a raise interest and liked and the family just can't win in the end up to sex having now. Student I was gonna ask you in New Hampshire a week. We can talk a little of that that what their relationship between the drug abuse like Ethiopia and it's epidemic. To have heroin which is they're half a longtime drug abuse even know. Any other kind causing homelessness or related to homelessness. Yeah. We see a lot of people. We really see the opium weighty issue in our meals we've served 500 meals a day. And we're about 40% of those meals are served to people that don't live with us. So we see. A number of the people you can tell they're going through there addiction issues and they come into us firm meal. I'm not on a regular basis because nothing's regular about their life. You see when you come into the city of sikh people stand there with a sign. Yes so panhandlers for example panhandlers most of them are our drug addicts. So if you're giving money to panhandlers you're supporting their drug and because it's not about food no matter what the sign sense. They can all come with a mission the only reason nobody can come in the mission is at their violent but other than that everybody's welcome initially serve breakfast lunch and dinner seven days a week 365 days a year. We don't turn anybody away. It doesn't matter whether you're taller shorter fatter skinny you're. Man or woman and a family's. We see a lot of famous command later in the month after. Their food stamps are all used up we're also food pantry so we hand out food and we have closing that we handout at no charge. Which is that a donated clothing that we get from the community. And they people who come in and get back clothing and no charges well but the men senator just even though the community can come merits not very warm and it's not a very warm and Fuzzy place in welcoming and it's not welcome at all so this thing our new building will be very welcoming and it'll all be about. Outreach to the community and now we're gonna have a medical clinic and now we're gonna have. You know places so somebody has for I'm a child on their family and there didn't know there is on drugs and they don't have to deal with the thing come nor senator sit down with a drug counselor. And develop a strategy on how to work with this person how to deal with the and if they need some intervention will help them figure out how to intervene. We want you know somebody has a 400 dollar car repair historically they go to your landlord they're paying 800 dollars or ran for two bedroom apartment. And they have a form and our our parents so they've been in this apartment for nine years and they go to their landlord and say hey. I've got a car repair and and pay half the month's rent this month. Have got to fix my car. And over the next two months are not only pay my random radio on time and also catch up 200 dollars for the next two months historic who landmark would go along with that. But the landlord looking at that apartment tensing you know I think 11100 dollars for that apartment today. So if this person is laid on their rent I'm gonna start eviction process. And get them out so I can rehab and then get the 11100 dollars a month. So all the good things that are happening in poplar great except for that person and they are dollar apartment when the landmark looking at 11100 dollars to say can't afford 11100 dollars to. Where we're so excited that all of the a Renaissance but it is definitely affecting many many up so Condit Qaeda isolation even come to our senator animal figured out. Mean you know because this if this person has been living in an apartment for this long and been disk consistent in their rent. Maybe we pay the former house tournament have them chaos as it would certainly be better than me in them they're being homeless and posted absolutely on talk closely retirement PM live managed to live in households for a long time. They've been walking that fine line of being able to manage it but they've been successful overtime and that's where we want them. As a community we want them to stay house and you mentioned and before that. There's a misconception that maybe the city mission is a government. That there hey Daniel laughing but it's not right. It's not. A majority of our donations more than 97% of our funding our eight million dollar annual budget. Comes from private donors who. Well there's two quarter Scotch taped to a three by five card or check for 101000 dollars. Again are 88 million dollar annual budget. Is this how we survive and it's what allows us to do do the things that we need to do. Tube to really give. The time that's necessary for these men and women and moms and kids that time they need to really make this change in their life. And offer three meals a day three and a 65 days a year. It's it's that the fun what this community does for us and what they've done for us for a hundred years is absolutely amazing. And we try to earn everybody's trust every day. So it is there a I should assist before but. Sometimes it might be obvious like an economic requirement just first have to prove when they come from mile when they come to for shelter. Or accounts slinging to they have to prove with the economic status is should they have to be as certain poverty level or certain level of financial. Means there're there're a number of answers to that question and somebody comes to the man center they have there's no requirement that. Mistake that the New York State has an interesting law that if you present yourself to look any county seat in in the State of New York. And you can improve the homelessness. Then they have to find your house and and that's not true and many other states but it is true in New York. But different counties provide different hurdles. In order to meet that need. So. Some of the hurdles may be the you have to prove that your homeless. How do you do that. Yeah I had no idea yeah so there's very apropos you've got to go to an agency and they've got to a test and a form here homeless and you've got to take the form back to the county. And they can be very difficult but. When we're not to believe anybody on the street that comes to us if we're full which we are every night 365 days a year at the men sent our work full. Marin 92 bed emergency shelters full every night. That's really the only public funding we get as the county pays us and per night charge for anybody that they place without us. Other than that we get no other public funding our private totally private fund through through foundations through corporations through individuals. Through. Organizations like rotary and people like that green. The stars anyway everyone being welcomed though as far as and besides what you said that if Kerry was since somebody. But if somebody just shows up on their own do they have to troops and economic you know no means a note no means a domain so. But we sit down with them you fairly certainly didn't term as things wearing on terror I don't know what the issues aren't. Com and if we're not in the right place if they're not in the right place for example if they have a medical issue we get right to the hospital. If Davis if there you know. Have a substance abuse issue and they wanna go to rehab will caught the rehab and get them over there. If we're full will bring him in any ways and dumb book called account Meehan and say you know we have somebody here that they look for housing we've verified there. Housing in the counting well then let's place him somewhere else. We have we work on the number of other. Smaller groups for the largest homeless shelter for man I'm cornerstones a little different cornerstone was funded with a New York State tax credits. Tom and under as a requirement for those New York State tax credits or say. Income maximum. That the woman can have. And there's an earnings maximum that they can happen if they're over that maximum I cannot bring them and two corners. And and when you mention that the beds are full the whole year. I'm just assuming that this much more need both for food and shelter. In cold weather I would see the it eat you know seek code blue or something and they say. The bad weather and cold weather whatever. You know there's a place view you must you know going to a shelter and I don't know if it's yours or other shelters. Yeah so there Tom we ran code blue for seven years. And I have come 92 men in my emergency shelter and I sixty men in my transitional unit. And I was getting between 1516 man im code blue that would come to me. And what was happening amendment came common cold blue. They're active users. So they're actively using drugs and alcohol. My men in my transitional program a trying to stop from using drugs and alcohol in many cases. So the men that were coming in in my called blue there was no way physically that I can separate these groups effectively. So I was losing men out of my transitional. Because these guys for some drugs. So I was losing man out of my transitional program because they were tempted by these guys coming in so last year we stopped doing code blue a command center. Com and we team up with the homeless alliance of Western New York which is an alliance of homeless providers. And they have three or four other spots in the city where those those men and women and families are welcome. Come to we provide food for that come through those organizations. We also is provide transportation were one of the stops there's a van that goes around pick people up at the bus station they come to us and they take him to other facilities. But it is true that there's more they need in bit in the in the other 6100 yeah most people on Western New York I have 92 vets are only a 123 events. Four men in the city in the county. So land and pleasure is needed there is accusing the other camps are homeless camps around the city. Through about thirteen homeless camps. And these are many of these are couples that don't wanna separate. And so the memo coming in my episode in the women McCormick cornerstone. They're they're Salvation Army has the only family units. Spend their very few in their full most of the time. And so a lot of people are doubling opera tripling up quadrupling up and apartments. And paying rent you know there may be six or seven people who are living in an apartment. We're we're just so grateful for all the good work that you do and I'm so happy really had an opportunity to discuss these services. Especially at this time here and let everybody know we a capital campaign is still going on Catalina. And we have our fall campaign going on right now where we raise about a third of our funding in the last. Couple months of the year where we're still about 600000 dollar short between now on the end of the year. And down buffalo city mission dot ORG you can go do and you can. Donated right on line. Okay will thank you so much who's really nervous talking to you and thanks for listening to on target and we hope you have enjoyed our conversation and will be with us again next week. Have a good week into by everybody. You've been listening to one target with penny Wolfgang. A program that takes an inside look at western new York and our community. If you have any comments or suggestions please write to penny Wolfgang at 500 corporate parkway suite 200 Amherst New York. 114 to six.