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Federal shutdown hurts program for the homeless

Rapid Rehousing is a federally funded program. Community Missions says the lack of funds because of the federal shutdown could result in more people becoming homeless.

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — Call it the trickle down effect of the United States federal government shutdown. 

Ralph Malone is homeless and depending on Rapid Rehousing through Community Missions in Niagara Falls to help him get a permanent place to call home. Right now, with no funds being released, Community Missions can not pay rent to landlords who have housed tenants through the federally funded program.

"We are talking with landlords and telling them once we have access to the funding we can pay them whatever arrears or whatever we owe 100%," said Luci Sack, case manager for the program. However, she said, not all landlords are willing too wait.

"There is the distinct possibility that these clients could soon go through an eviction process because they are not paying their rent  and it's no fault of their own," according to Grant Babcock, director of operations for Community Missions."I am very nervous about what's going to happen to the population so at risk here at the shelter."

The Erie County Department of Social Services is offering support to furloughed workers with two programs for emergency assistance that furloughed federal workers may qualify for and utilize immediately: Emergency Temporary Assistance and Emergency Food Pantry Referral.

Emergency Temporary Assistance is available for residents with an urgent need or situation that has to be taken care of right away, such as eviction or no heat. Applications for Emergency Temporary Assistance should be filed at the ECDSS Emergency Services/ HEAP office located on the second floor of 460 Main Street, Buffalo. Offices are open 8AM – 4PM or call (716) 858-6265