New York Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez today announced $100,000 in funding will be allocated to the Community Action Organization of Western New York to assist East Buffalo residents with housing security. The funding will be used to provide case management and rental and mortgage assistance to 100 families and individuals in East Buffalo to prevent evictions and help families maintain safe, stable and permanent housing. The Community Action Organization of Western New York has been instrumental in providing supportive services and aid to East Buffalo residents during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the aftermath of the tragedy at Tops Market in May of 2022.
“Our Division of Community Services works closely with non-profit organizations to help low-income families all across the state,” Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said. “The East Buffalo community has experienced significant hardships over the past year, and the Community Action Organization of Western New York has been instrumental in helping this community to recover during these difficult times. We are proud to deliver this critical funding that will provide much-needed aid and services to our most vulnerable New Yorkers in Western New York.”
Thomas Kim, President of the Community Action Organization of Western New York said, “I am grateful for the commitment and tireless efforts demonstrated by the New York State Department of State and Governor Kathy Hochul, as evidenced by their generous $100,000 grant awarded to the CAO of WNY's CARAF (Community Action Rental Assistance Fund) initiative. This funding is a testament to their dedication to uplifting our community. Through this grant, we will be able to provide invaluable support to families in East Buffalo, enabling them to maintain secure and stable housing through rental and mortgage assistance. The State's ongoing commitment to our community is commendable, and I am humbled by their continued support.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, "As our community heals from the many challenges we have faced since the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become even more evident the necessity for safe and affordable housing. I thank Governor Hochul and the New York Department of State for providing the CAO of WNY these valuable resources to help residents of East Buffalo stay in their homes.”
The Community Action Organization of Western New York (CAOWNY), established in 1965, is a Community Action Agency funded under the federal Community Services Block Grant administered by the New York Department of State. The Department of State’s Division of Community Services oversees the Community Services Block Grant on behalf of the State of New York.
CAOWNY provides services to mitigate poverty and promote self-sufficiency for low-income families throughout Buffalo and Erie County. The organization uses Community Service Block Grant funding and other state and federal funding to assist more than 20,000 residents in Buffalo and Erie County.
During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, utilizing CSBG CARES Act funding, the CAOWNY was able to help Erie County residents meet the significant increase in the need for emergency food and personal care products while helping school-aged children and senior citizens ‘connect’ to promote education and reduce isolation while respecting social distancing parameters. As the eviction moratorium was lifted, the CAOWNY has prioritized the prevention of homelessness through rent, utility and mortgage payments.
CAOWNY was also instrumental in providing support to East Buffalo residents in the aftermath of the Tops Market tragedy of May 14, 2022. The unfortunate tragedy led to the closure of Tops Market, the only food retailer in a 2-mile radius, creating a food dessert in the East Buffalo community. In partnership with the Resource Council of Western New York, CAOWNY opened a food pantry to help meet the food challenges resulting from the market’s closure.
Other services CAOWNY provides to assist residents include:
- Food pantries – distributing 50,000 pounds of food annually.
- Mobile Farmers Markets – serving 12 designated food deserts within Erie County.
- Substance Abuse Treatment – helping 545 individuals to maintain long-term sobriety.
- Head Start/Early Head Start – providing 1,675 children with educational services in preparation for kindergarten.
- Senior Services – assisting 150 seniors to maintain independent living.
- Urban Farmland – providing 2,400 servings of organic produce.
- Employment services – providing up to 400 residents with employment-related assistance and opportunities.
- Youth Sports – providing high-quality recreational programming for 300 children.
- Afterschool programs – providing afterschool activities for 555 school-aged youth.
More information about the Community Action Organization of Western New York is available here.
About The Division of Community Services
The New York Department of State’s Division of Community Services works with an extensive network of regional community action agencies to combat poverty among poor and low-income families. The Division of Community Services directs funding to these non-profit organizations to help provide low-income and poor families across New York State with necessary services, including employment assistance and training, emergency food and housing, childcare, home heating and much more. Community action agencies are beneficiaries of New York State’s Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds, which are administered by the Division of Community Services. The Division monitors and tracks agencies’ progress in fulfillment of goals, while also ensuring compliance to CSBG guidelines. More information is available on the Department of State website.