Eviction Prevention Funds Available Through STAND UP Buffalo

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The Matt Urban Center, in partnership with the City of Buffalo’s STAND UP Buffalo program and 211 WNY, is providing rental assistance to at-risk residents who have been economically impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Arrears assistance for a maximum of three months and up to $4500 can be provided to those experiencing a COVID-19 hardship who meet income requirements.
Community members who are interested in applying to this program must first contact 211 WNY for initial intake and eligibility assessment. Those deemed eligible will then be referred to staff at our Matt Urban Hope Center. For more information, please visit www.211wny.org 

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.

A Home for the Holidays at Hope House

In a year where the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to stay close to home, we may have taken for granted what a luxury it is to have a safe home to retreat to.

Our Matt Urban Center housing team recently handed the keys to our very first tenants at Hope House, our newly renovated apartment complex located in the former P.S. 57 building on Sears Street. Our partners at Best Self Behavioral Health helped us in securing a safe, warm, affordable home for Christina and her 10 year-old daughter, Na’zia.

Christina had been patiently waiting for those keys for a long time. The past two years have been a rough road for her as she worked to overcome substance abuse and the hardships it brought to her and Na’zia’s lives.

“I’ve always been a drinker, but then I started indulging in cocaine,” she said. “I did that for about a year and a half, and I lost everything – my job, my car, and my home.”

Christina got into a 28-day rehab program at the Stutzman Addiction Treatment Center, but when the program concluded, she knew she wasn’t ready to step out on her own yet. She made her way to Best Self’s Lighthouse Women’s Residence to continue her recovery. Upon hearing from her counselor that she was a candidate for tenancy at Hope House, she requested to extend her stay at Lighthouse while waiting for renovations to be completed. She knew there were so few options for affordable housing where she and her daughter could go and truly feel safe.

“They asked if I wanted to leave and wait, but I didn’t want to jeopardize my recovery being somewhere else, and there’s a lack of places for women to go safely with their children,” Christina said. “It was a journey being optimistic, but I believe in God and he kept telling me if you just wait, it will be so worth it. I would do it all over again. I would wait another 6 months if I had to.”

Now Christina has a bright, modernly furnished apartment with large windows and on-site laundry facilities. She’s close to the Broadway Market, the post office, and other businesses where she can run her errands. More importantly, she has access to support from the Best Self Behavioral Health staff who work in the building when she needs it. And for the first time in two years – since they lost their home – Na’zia finally has her own room and privacy again.

“I’m so grateful for this place,” Christina said. “To be able to come somewhere secure, safe, affordable, and nice on top of everything else. I was expecting the bare minimum, but it’s so beautiful and modern and innovative with the high ceilings and the light fixtures. This is my sanctuary.”

Christina and Na’zia are looking forward to decorating their new home for the holidays with Christina’s mother, and continuing to work on their DIY projects together. The enjoy spending time together making jewelry and finding new ideas from online tutorials. Christina’s also looking forward to having a quiet space to write her poetry.

“I’m really into my NA book now, I do a lot of meetings,” she said. “I like to help other women who have been through the same things that I have. I’m just looking forward to working with my peers here to sustain my sobriety and just do my part, being responsible and living life on life’s terms. I want to be able to sit with my emotions, deal with my problems as they occur, keep my daughter happy. I really just want to do my part and evolve.”

Below is a poem Christina wrote, inspired by her new home at Hope House:

Hope is home after a long day of confusion

Where your reality is yours without any illusion

Your family is safe and call this place home

Where you’ll be content even when you are alone

This place is comfortable and affordable too

Within the decisions you make, you’ll find the hidden truth

That this is the place that you can be you

Where tenants are happy and have found hope here, too!

For those who need housing assistance and want to learn more about applying for an apartment at Hope House, contact Best Self Behavioral Health at 716-449-3372.

Keep an eye on our website and Matt Urban Center social media for more stories and updates from Hope House!

Making Spirits Bright: Donation Spotlight

The giving season is upon us, and that couldn’t be more apparent with the overwhelming number of in-kind donations we have received. From blankets and winter clothing, to non-perishable food items and Christmas gifts for children – we are absolutely blown away by the generosity of our local community and their compassion for the families we serve. A special thank you goes out to the following in-kind donors:
Ingram Micro
Main Pediatrics
Savarino Companies
Tabernacle of Praise
Buffalo Police Department C District & NET Team
Haley Marketing Group
Elizabeth Felmet
Charlene Stalikas
Vinnita McDuffie
The Bajdas Family
Patricia Cichocki
Kevin Young
Kristin Fyda
Rebecca Bremiller
Jeffrey Scharoun
Maria Slawson
The Zulewski Family
Emma Rich
Nancy Maiarana
We’d also like to give a big shout-out to these generous individuals for making monetary donations to our Giving Tuesday campaign to support the women and children staying at our Hope House emergency shelter during the holiday season:
NYS Minorities in Criminal Justice Association
Jessica Aungst
Robert Scott DeLuca
Brandon Jones
Marcia Pacciotti
Karen Carman
Alissa Venturini
Gina Pfleegor
David Kiefer
Ellen Scheuering
Jeffrey Miller
Thomas Idziak
Thank you to our community of kind and compassionate donors! We hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and stay well!

Cookies for a Cause Raises $2000 for Hope House

Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, the 2020 Cookies for a Cause fundraiser to benefit Matt Urban Center was a tremendous success!
Since 2017, Rebecca Decker has organized a cookie exchange at the holidays with all proceeds going to support the women and children staying at our Hope House shelter. This year’s event was a cookie sale with socially distanced pick-ups to accommodate COVID-19 guidelines. Thanks to our generous supporters, the event raised over $2,000.
Since its inception, Cookies for a Cause has raised $6,500 to support Hope House. Extra special thanks go out to Rebecca Decker for all her hard work in organizing this annual event on our behalf!

Donate to Hope House on Giving Tuesday

It’s difficult to imagine spending the holiday season in a homeless shelter, but for many of our clients, that will be their reality this year.
We’re participating in #GivingTuesday on December 1 to try to make the holidays a little brighter for those staying at the Matt Urban Hope House emergency shelter. Donations will be used to purchase essential items and holiday gifts for the women and their children.
Please consider making your #GivingTuesday donation at www.urbanctr.org/donate-to-muc

Hope Center Now Assisting Residents With Rent and Mortgage Assistance Applications

The Matt Urban Hope Center, located at 385 Paderewski Drive, will be assisting residents with processing their documentation to apply for Live Well Erie and City of Buffalo Cares Act Rental and Mortgage Assistance, from now through November 25.

This program will provide temporary rent and mortgage assistance to individuals who were unable to pay their rent or mortgage due to circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All residents must first call 2-1-1 to verify their eligibility for this program. Once deemed eligible, residents may contact our Hope Center staff to set up an appointment to submit their documentation. We cannot accept walk-in clients at this time due to COVID-19 restrictions at our facility, so an appointment is suggested to ensure timely assistance. Please call (716) 893-7222 x310 to set an appointment.

Residents must come to the appointment with all required documents.  A list of required documents is available at http://www.211wny.org/resources/erie-county-covid-19-rent-relief/

Note that our Hope Center is following all New York State COVID-19 guidelines and a face mask is required in order to enter the facility.

To learn more about this program, please visit www.211wny.org

Employment Opportunity: Community Health Worker

Now Hiring: Community Health Worker

Job Description: The Community Health Worker has the responsibility to cover all duties on the floor while building trusting relationships with clients. CHW’s are responsible for eliminating barriers and advocating for additional supports along the way. The effectiveness of CHWs lies in their ability to gain access to hard-to-reach individuals and to patiently coach and support them as they work towards housing stability.

Click the link above for full listing. Please submit cover letter and resume to Christal Guthrie, Director of Homeless Services, at cguthrie@urbanctr.org.