Tim Wenger

Coalition for the Homeless Announces "Cold Blue" Initiatives

Serves as emergency weather plan for city's homelss population

November 13, 2018 - 3:39 pm

BUFFALO (WBEN) - Winter is quickly approaching in Buffalo, and the Western New York Coalition for the Homeless' Code Blue Collaborative held a press conference today to update the public on some changes to their initiatives.

"Code Blue" is the emergency safety plan that organizes the city's homeless population to make sure their needs are met during the harsh winter weather. Jean Bennett serves as the chair of the coalition, and she described how the initiative achieves that goal.

"The van that was provided by Rich Products goes out and runs a route, and so they go around to all of the locations that have homeless individuals, and they pick them up and bring them in for shelter. 'Code Blue' really is about providing open shelter, a meal, a warm place to stay," she said. "Really, the most important aspect is getting these people linked for services so that they're not coming back for the 2019-2020 'Code Blue' season."

Bennett says there are some changes to this year's services.

"For this year, we have lost Matt Urban [Hope Center> in the process, so this year it's just the Restoration Society, Inc: Harbor House at 241 Genesee Street, and then St. Luke's that are taking part with the two shelters," said Bennett. "So, we're down to two shelters from three but really have expanded space and better services."

To clarify, Harbor House is open whenever the temperature drops below 32 degrees, and St. Luke's will also open its doors when the weather drops beneath 15 degrees.

Nadia Pizarro serves as a coach for the coalition, and she talked about the impact of the "Code Blue" initiative.

"It's lifesaving," she said. "It's brought our weather-related death rate to zero in the last two years. When I started - it was 15, it was 20 - people were actually freezing to death on the streets. It's a mission to save lives, but also to provide linkage services, food and housing."

"We've created an amazing system to quickly house, to identify," said Pizarro. "We ended veterans homelessness, we're on point to end chronic homelessness, we're working on youth homelessness; however, because of poverty, because of housing prices and the lack of affordable housing, the rate of homelessness has stayed steady."

Pizarro then discussed how the community can help.

"Anyone can support 'Code Blue.' You can go online to our website and donate, you can donate waterproof gloves, boots, warm-weather clothes and blankets," she said. "Food is a big issue, so we really need restaurants, organizations, churches and anyone who can support our individuals."

You can hear full audio from Bennett and Pizarro below:

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