Meet Our Hope Center Heroes!

Not all heroes wear capes – some of them work at the Matt Urban Hope Center! We want to give two of our staff members a well-deserved shout-out for being lifesavers!

Last month, a community member came to the Hope Center in a panic, shouting that their friend had overdosed in an abandoned house across the street. Latasha Colbert, assistant case manager, and Nick Arlain, homeless outreach case manger, immediately responded, hopping a fence to get to the building. They entered the building and found an individual who had overdosed upstairs. Nick administered Narcan in an attempt to revive the individual as they waited for emergency services to arrive. EMS administered additional Narcan and the individual was revived and taken to the hospital.

Thankfully, Nick and Latasha heard the individual who attempted to alert them, as it was before the Hope Center opened. Had no one heard that community member, the individual who overdosed may have died. This is one of the many stories of Nick and Latasha’s dedication to the community and going above and beyond for our clients. They make us proud!

Our Housing First clients are making moves!

Matt Urban Center’s Housing First team helps chronically homeless individuals find a safe place to live by working to place them in local scattered site apartments and hooking them up with intensive case management to provide some stability.

With nearly 70 units of housing to fill and many clients to help, that means a lot of moves are happening on a monthly basis for this crew.

“We used to have to pay ABC movers and we were paying anywhere from $300 to $500 to get them to move clients’ belongings,” Lisa said. “Whether it was a new client, an old client moving from one apartment to another, picking up furniture from St. Vincent’s – we had to use them.”

This past summer, the team purchased a box truck and our Housing First Supervisor, Lisa Gentzler, had an idea. Now that we had the means to relocate our client’s belongings to their new apartments, why not turn this into an employment opportunity for them, too?

So Lisa created a moving team for Housing First, by Housing First. “To source the employees, I decided I’m going to use my own clients,” she said. “We’ve been in operation for about a month and a half and I can’t say enough how successful it has been.”

She started out with one client – Rashad – who is currently unemployed and living on social security income due to issues related to his schizophrenia. Lisa was able to get him work moving clients two to three times per week.

“It helps with his boredom,” she said. “He is a former crack addict. After working with him for some time, he got clean and has been for over a year. It’s nice for him to be able to supplement his income. We put him to work as much as possible.”

What came out of a necessity to stop paying exorbitant fees to moving companies created opportunity for our clients and a better process for serving them. With the Housing First team handling its own moves, they’re now able to get a client moved in less than three hours.

Not only does it help the clients who need to be moved, but it also helps Lisa to do her job as their case manager. “This gives me more time to spend with clients and get to know them better. And it gives my case managers more time with their clients, too.”

 Knowing how badly many of the apartments needed cleaning in between moves, Lisa added cleaning to the jobs list. Her team is tough, tackling some pretty heaving cleaning jobs and moving heavy furniture, too.  

“I’m so proud of these guys,” she said. “Some of these jobs are really hard. You’re talking about moving refrigerators and stoves into 2nd or 3rd floor apartments. People are floored by the fact that they come in and don’t complain – they just get the job done and go home.”

Lisa now has four clients on her team who are earning their own paycheck, and helping the program succeed, too. One client who battles with alcoholism was typically spending his days drinking in the park. Now he has meaningful work that keeps him busy.  

“It gives them that feeling that ‘I’m really doing something for myself.’ It keeps them from doing bad things, sure, but it also gives them that freedom that comes with having a job,” Lisa said. “Being able to bring them their checks and see their faces light up is amazing.”

Representing MUC in Albany

Tasha Moore, our Community Health Worker at Hope Gardens, recently traveled to Albany to attend the statewide public hearing to evaluate the continuing unmet civil legal services needs in New York.

Tasha went to show support for our partners at Neighborhood Legal Services and gave powerful testimony to the need for adequate civil legal services. Tasha’s remarks share how critical those resources have been in her own life and to the clients she serves.

Read Tasha’s full testimony here.

Climbing PoeTree Free Concert at Matt Urban Center

We’re hosting a free community concert in partnership with our friends at Open Buffalo!

Climbing PoeTree will perform on Saturday, Oct. 6 from 7-00-9:00 p.m. here at 1081 Broadway in the third floor hall. The show features Alixa Garcia and Naima Penniman’s award-winning dual-voice spoken word, backed with infectious beats and multimedia theater.

This event is FREE and open to the public—all are welcome! Light refreshments will be provided.

See the Facebook event page for more info here.

Employment Opportunity: Accounting Clerk

Now Hiring: Accounting Clerk

Job Description: The Accounting Clerk will be responsible for providing accounting support to accounting supervisors and other managers within the department. Keys daily worksheets into the general ledger system, ensures files are complete and maintained as needed, handles accounts payable duties, and assists accounting personnel.

Click the link above for full listing.

Please submit cover letter and resume to Karen Baer at

Employment Opportunity: Senior Accountant

Now Hiring: Senior Accountant

Job Description: The Senior Account will report to the Controller. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, general ledger accountability and financial reporting, as well as financial profitability analysis and other special projects assigned.

Click the link above for full listing.

Please submit cover letter and resume to Karen Baer at

Employment Opportunity: Hope Center Director

Now Hiring: Hope Center Director

Job Description: The Hope Center director will directly oversee all Hope Center and Homeless Outreach programming at Polonia Hall, as well as direct supervision and program development of Hope Works and AMP Ink. This position will act as an immediate supervisor to staff from the aforementioned programs.

Click the link above for full listing.

Please submit cover letter and resume to Karen Baer at

Join us for our Quarterly Community Breakfast!

Want to learn more about our programs at the Matt Urban Center and hear the latest update on our School 57 renovation project?

Join us on Saturday, September 22 at 10:30AM for our quarterly community breakfast! The event will take place in the third floor hall of our main headquarters at 1081 Broadway.

We will have a presentation on the renovations currently underway at the former School 57 building, followed by a roundtable with our Housing & Community Development, Youth, and Hope Services programs. A brief survey will be conducted to inform the discussion at our next meeting.

Light breakfast will be provided. Please contact us with questions at (716) 893-7222 x310 or

Creating Homeowners in Our Community

933 Fillmore Avenue

The Matt Urban Center’s Housing & Community Development department is thrilled to share that we have renovated and sold three properties in the Broadway Fillmore and South Buffalo communities to low-income first-time homebuyers!

The homes are located at 928 and 933 Fillmore Avenue and 21 South Ryan Street. All three properties were given full gut rehabs, including installation of new roofs and siding, and full interior renovations with new flooring, appliances and finishes.

One of the properties, located at 933 Fillmore Avenue, was owned by a couple who no longer live in the neighborhood. It had been their dream to fix up the house, but unfortunately they did not have the resources. They originally purchased the home for $18,000, but they decided to sell it to the Matt Urban Center for $1.00 so that it could be renovated and once again become an asset to the neighborhood.

928 Fillmore Avenue
The sale of these three properties brought in over $200,000 to be re-invested in the Matt Urban Center’s next community development project.
We’re incredibly grateful to our partners in this process: The City of Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, Lamparelli Construction, Mia Mootry and Tamika Collins of Hunt Real Estate, Neighborworks, the Office of Joshua E. Dubs, and Marielis Rodriguez and our SNAP program workers for maintaining and cleaning the properties prior to closing.

Employee Spotlight: Congratulations, Cherise!

We’re very proud and excited to share that Cherise Cason, one of our Youth Department site coordinators, has earned a 50% tuition discount scholarship to Hilbert College through the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County.

Cherise will be enrolled in the Master of Public Administration program at Hilbert College this fall. She has been employed in the Matt Urban Center’s Youth Department for about two years. We’re looking forward to the knowledge and skills she’ll be bringing to her work here at MUC.

Congratulations, Cherise!