BURA Launches “STAND UP Buffalo” Initiative

Mayor Byron W. Brown recently announced the launch of the Small Business, Tenants, And Neighborhood Development Underwriting Program or “STAND UP Buffalo” Initiative. The initiative is comprised of a series of direct assistance grants and programs that will allow residents and business owners to respond to the unique challenges the global Coronavirus Pandemic has caused in Buffalo and cities across the nation.

The Matt Urban Center is proud to be one of the community agencies that are partnering with the City to deliver critical services to City residents and small businesses. Other collaborating agencies include:

2-1-1 WNY
Restoration Society
Belmont Housing Resources
Center for Elder Law and Justice
Catholic Charities
Buffalo Urban League
Old First Ward Community Association
Heart of the City Neighborhoods
University District Community Development Association
Housing Opportunities Made Equal
Neighborhood Legal Services
Westminster Economic Development Initiative

“The Matt Urban Center provides a wide range of services to the East Side of Buffalo including, home repairs and weatherization, affordable housing development, multiple programs aimed at addressing homelessness as well as robust programs for youth and seniors,” said Ben Hilligas, Executive Director. Our mission is to provide programs that revitalize neighborhoods, serve families, and change lives. When I hear ‘STAND UP Buffalo’ I immediately think of the strength and resilience of our community and the solidarity we demonstrate and represent as citizens of the City of Buffalo. We thank the Mayor for his commitment to fair and equal housing in the City of Buffalo.”

Read the full press release with more information about the STAND UP Buffalo Initiative by clicking here.

Afterschool Programming Returns to Polonia Hall

We’re excited that in-person afterschool programming will return to our Polonia Hall site at 385 Paderewski Drive, beginning March 1, 2021. We will be following COVID-19 guidelines and limiting the number of participants in the program for safety reasons.

To fill out an application to participate in the afterschool program, click here.

Please contact Justin Larke at jlarke@urbanctr.org or at (716) 893-7222 x311 for more information.

MUC Seeking Bids for Pest Control Services

The Matt Urban Center is currently seeking the services of a qualified contractor to assist in pest control services at our administrative and rental properties.

The full Request for Proposals can be viewed here: RFP Pest Control – All MUC Properties – Feb 2021

The deadline for submitting a proposal is Friday, February 19 at 3:30 p.m. All bids must be submitted via U.S. Mail or delivery to:

Andrew Linneman, Purchasing Agent
Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of WNY
1081 Broadway
Buffalo, NY 14212

Questions on this request for qualifications may be directed to purchasing@urbanctr.org or (716) 893 – 7222 ext: 227.

Donor Spotlight: The Sengupta Family

This month we’re highlighting The Sengupta Family – Sourav, Elizabeth, and their two daughters. After touring our Hope Center facility and learning about what we do last year, the family made a very generous personal donation to our Homeless Outreach team, including monies that their daughters had saved up in their piggy bank. Coupled with their donation from last year, the Sengupta Family has provided over $24,500 to support our efforts to meet our homeless clients where they’re at and provide support and resources to keep them safe.
Our Homeless Outreach team is excited to be able to purchase some specialized supplies that they don’t have consistent access to, such as larger sizes of clothing for clients, boots and shoes, storage for donations, and transportation passes.
A tremendous thank you to the Sengupta Family for their generosity and compassion for the clients we serve!

Volunteer at Home: Welcome Packages

The Matt Urban Center recently began leasing our Hope House apartments in the former Buffalo Public School #57 on Sears Street, which are supportive housing opportunities provided in partnership with BestSelf Behavioral Health. The tenants moving in have been homeless and many are arriving with nothing more than a few bags. More often than not, they do not have the basic items that one would use to set up a new home.
Those looking for an in-kind donation/volunteer at home opportunity can help our new tenants by assembling welcome packages to give them a head start in turning their apartments into an inviting home! See below for a list of items that our tenants need:
  • Shower curtain
  • Dish sponges
  • Wastebasket
  • Trash bags
  • Cooking Utensils
  • Full-sized sheet set
  • Laundry basket or hamper
  • Broom and dust pan
  • Dinnerware set
  • Silverware
Volunteers are free to choose which items they’ll include in their package (and add your own ideas if you’d like). Donations of any size and quantity are greatly appreciated and will help make our tenants feel more at home.
To donate a Welcome Package for a Hope House tenant or to get more information, contact Sarah Maurer, Development Director, at (716) 893-7222 x232 or smaurer@urbanctr.org.

MUC Housing Department Expands Reach

Our Housing & Community Development Department is excited to announce being awarded the 2020 Community Partnership Initiative through Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency. This year will mark over 20 years that we have been serving the East Side of Buffalo with home repair assistance and other programming through this contract, and is an exciting time with the expansion of our service area to include many additional East Side neighborhoods. We look forward to continuing our partnership with BURA. For more information call 716-893-7222 x213.

To find out if the Matt Urban Center is the community based organization that serves your neighborhood, click here and submit your property address.

 

First Round of Renovations at 104 Lewis Street is Complete!

Phase one of construction on tenant units at our T.J. Wojnar Parkview Apartments is complete! Our first round of tenants are excited to be living in their newly renovated apartments.
COVID-19 has impacted everyone in many ways, and in this case it meant several delays in a major rehabilitation project for the building, with teams on every end working reduced hours, shipping and inventory delays, and smaller crews. Savarino Companies has kept to the task and ensured a smooth process along the way, coordinating with our Property Manager, Debbie Skulski-Wakelam, and Lincoln Moving and Storage of Buffalo to move residents into their new homes. Thank you to all of our partners on this project, including New York State Homes & Community Renewal and LISC WNY.
Construction completion is still on track for summer 2021 and additional units may be available at that time. For additional information on this 32-unit apartment building or to apply to our waitlist, visit our website or call 716-893-7222 x222.

Letter from the Executive Director

Greetings, friends of the Matt Urban Center.
It is with great humility that I address you all as the new Executive Director of this historic human services organization. I officially assumed this role on Monday, January 4, 2021 and as I write this, I am mid-way through my fourth week.
First, I must thank the former Acting Executive Director and current Chief Program Officer, Alissa Venturini, for her leadership during a challenging and uncertain time for the agency. I feel incredibly fortunate to have her and the rest of the leadership team by my side as we begin to chart the new course for the continued success of the Matt Urban Center.
Over the course of this month, a few things have become exceedingly clear to me: the services we provide are critical to both individuals and the community at large; the employees who deliver these services are talented and invested in the success of their clients; and that there are tremendous additional needs that are currently unmet. In saying that, I would also like to make clear that despite the high level of need, there are other intangible resources that are in large supply. The strength, resolve, resourcefulness and ingenuity, as well as the deep level of care, commitment and consideration exhibited by members of our community and team on a daily basis are, in my opinion, the true measure of our collective worth and impact.
As I begin my tenure, my immediate goals are to bring stability to the organization in the near term; to learn as much as possible about our diverse array of program offerings – from afterschool to emergency home repairs; and to connect with our partners, funders and stakeholder groups, including community organizations and individual community members. While the pandemic will impact my ability to make those connections in the way I would prefer, I will make every effort to be as visible and accessible as possible as we continue to safely navigate COVID-19. However, when the weather begins to turn and our ability to interact in person increases, you can count on seeing me around the building and neighborhood, talking and listening to what our friends and neighbors have to say.
Lastly, I just can’t emphasize enough how humbled and excited I am to have the opportunity to lead this organization and have a positive impact on our neighborhood, the East Side, City of Buffalo, Erie County and WNY as a whole. I look forward to meeting and working with you all. Stay safe and healthy.

Thank You to the Buffalo Bills!

We wanted to congratulate our beloved Buffalo Bills on an amazing season! This team has given hope to so many this year, including the Matt Urban Center and the clients we serve. We also want to give a special shout-out to the following Bills players for their acts of generosity during the holiday season:
Matt Barkley and his family made a $10,000 donation to our Hope House women and children’s shelter to make Christmas brighter for our residents (their second donation in 2020!) Matt also teamed up with local apparel company Buf on Weck to sell Buffalo Renegade shirts and hoodies, with part of the proceeds benefitting our organization.
Josh Norman and his Starz 24 Foundation donated blankets, socks, hats, gloves, hand sanitizer and hand warmers to our Homeless Outreach team to help take care of their clients during the cold winter months.
Micah Hyde’s IMagINe For Youth Foundation’s Kicks for Kids initiative donated 25 backpacks filled with Nike Sneakers, Nike Shorts, candy and Buffalo Bills gear to the children in our youth after-school program and those staying at our Hope House shelter.
The Bills’ Women’s Association also provided funds for a beautiful catered holiday meal for our Hope House residents and staff to enjoy together to celebrate the season.
We’re so grateful to have a hometown team that not only plays with tremendous heart, but also keeps our community close to its heart. We’re always rooting for them. GO BILLS!

Volunteer At Home Opportunity

Looking to give back during the holidays? Assembling personal essentials kits for our Hope Center is a COVID-safe way to volunteer on your own time!
We’ve partnered with the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County’s Family Volunteer Season program to get more folks involved in volunteering while staying safe amidst the pandemic. Any number of kits donated is greatly appreciated and will go to good use in our Hope Center’s personal essentials pantry.
Visit uwbec.org/family-volunteer-day for instructions on how to assemble the kits and info on how to get them to us.
Questions? Email our Development Director, Sarah Maurer, at smaurer@urbanctr.org.