BUFFALO NY (WIVB) – A gated community will soon open in South Buffalo to help address the community’s homelessness crisis.
OLV Human Services is partnering with Peaceprints of Western New York to open a Roots Residence, a temporary shelter for people affected by homelessness.
“The goal is for them to stay there for the short term, six to nine months, so they can stabilize, get back on their feet, and then get on with their lives,” said Cindy Lee, CEO of OLV Human Services.
The residence will be located on Saint John’s Place in South Buffalo and will be adjacent to an early childhood program.
“It’s not about the program. It’s not about the individuals, it’s about being close to the most vulnerable people in our community, our children,” said Colleen, whose four-year-old son attends the daycare next to the facility. “We have to protect them [children] We have to make sure things are safe and I think no matter what anyone says there is a risk, there is a risk and it’s not a risk I want to take as a parent.”
The short-term shelter could accommodate around 20 men aged 18 and over. Some of the men may have committed an offence. The organizations say none of the residents have a history of sexual or other assaults on minors.
“My number one concern is my son’s safety,” Colleen told News 4. “I think it’s a risk to house people who have been convicted of crimes right next to a preschool.”
Officials say this location was chosen because it is close to public transportation and there is a need for the service in the area.
“This is a very real community need that needs to be met, and we are well placed to do it,” Lee said. “We are delighted to be able to provide these people with a safe haven, and we are proud to partner with Peaceprints to provide them with the services they need to move into the next chapter of their lives.”
“Safety is of the utmost importance, not only for the surrounding community but also for the team working at the facility,” said Cindi McEachon, CEO of Peaceprints of WNY. “We will screen every applicant that comes in. We’ll look at what his story is, what his narrative is, and whether or not it’s an appropriate spot in this particular program.”
Peaceprints of WNY operates three other residential facilities in Buffalo and says there have been no incidents at any of those locations.
“We have a team of really dedicated employees who will be working at the facility 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” McEachon said.
“We would never have progressed if I believed there was significant risk potential,” Lee said. “I am responsible for every child and teacher that is in the school adjacent to the accommodation and I take that responsibility very seriously.”
The facility could open as early as next month.