The Reality of Being Homeless in Winter
Buffalo has had some record-setting cold temperatures this season. With that in mind, have you ever taken a moment to imagine what it would be like to be homeless in winter?
Just picture it – you’re huddled in layers of clothes that haven’t been washed in weeks. Your gloves are tattered, and your fingers are so cold they’re numb. All the snow and slush you have to walk through has soaked your boots and socks. The wind cuts across the street chilling you to your core.
You have no deodorant, no toothbrush, and no idea where your next meal is going to come from. Relationships with your friends and family are strained. You’re alone and you’re cold.
You walk throughout the city looking for a place to rest, but everything is frozen. The ground is hard and benches are filled with snow and ice. Just taking a moment to sit is difficult. Your mind races – how did you end up here? All you can think about is what you could have done differently to not have been homeless in winter.
When it comes to substance use recovery and homelessness in Western New York, there is one very big, systemic problem: housing is either safe and expensive or affordable but in locations that are less safe. Local leaders and organizations like the Homeless Alliance of Western New York have drawn attention to this concern.
Continuing one’s recovery after treatment can be precarious. People in recovery typically can’t afford apartments in safe areas right after they finish treatment. They often have no choice but to go back to a living situation that does not support continued recovery. This usually involves living in an area filled with triggers and easy access to drugs and alcohol. Even though they successfully completed treatment, many people end up using again. They wind up back on the streets because safe and affordable housing is too hard to find.
Cazenovia Recovery sees this gap, and we have plans to address it. The agency is in the process of developing a new housing initiative in Buffalo that will feature 23 studio apartments for individuals in recovery. It is expected to open in 2019. We are also exploring Niagara County for a new housing project in the near future. Cazenovia Recovery is very excited to offer even more housing to individuals in recovery, especially so that they don’t have to endure a winter in Western New York without a home.