Homeless people will be severely impacted by cuts

The recent News article suggesting there will be little impact locally from the federal sequester didn’t tell the whole story. The truth is that the homeless community will be severely impacted by these federal cuts.

As executive director of the Homeless Alliance of Western New York, our agency is estimating that this region will lose $700,000 in funding for emergency, transitional, domestic violence, youth shelters, veterans and supportive housing for those with disabilities.

If you have a roof over your head, maybe the cuts won’t impact you. However, if you are living on the streets, seeking temporary shelter or need additional help to turn your life around, you will be severely impacted by these cuts.

Last year, more than 5,000 people in Erie County found themselves homeless. Almost 500 of them spent some portion of the year living in conditions not meant for human habitation, in cars, under bridges or outside. About 22 percent of the homeless were children, and women with children make up 75 percent of the homeless family population in Erie County. Someone please tell them there is little impact.

It is beyond belief that our country could turn its back on this vulnerable population just as we are coming out of the worst recession our generation has known. The Dow Jones hit a record high recently, but the homeless will see services cut.

Study after study has proven that housing the chronically homeless is more cost effective than doing nothing, but Congress and the president are doing worse than nothing – they are reducing treatment. These constant federal feuds are hurting real people and hurting the most vulnerable.

Dale Zuchlewski