Rural Outreach Center provides southern Erie County cold weather nighttime shelter

The Rural Outreach Center (ROC) is again offering Code Blue shelter services for southern Erie County. Code Blue is a state-mandated program that requires every county to offer nighttime shelter for homeless persons when the wind chill temperature drops below 32 degrees. There are two shelters in Buffalo, Harbor House at 241 Genesee St. and Holy Cross at 412 Niagara St. If you see someone in need, call 211 to have an outreach team dispatched from 7 to 11 p.m.

Outside of Buffalo, individuals can call (716) 288-1233 for the ROC outreach van. The  ROC’s vans will pick up individuals in southern Erie County, including the towns of West Seneca, Elma, Marilla, Hamburg, Orchard Park, Aurora, Wales, Evans, Eden, Concord, Boston, Holland, Brant, Angola, Gowanda, North Collins, Sardinia, Collins and Springville. 

“Our Code Blue service has been available to atypical homeless situations, such as a family whose heat was not working and individuals who have chosen to live out of their vehicles,” said ROC’s Executive Director Frank Cerny.

During the 2018-2019 winter season, 95% of ROC’s Code Blue participants received additional services, including enrollment for social benefits. In addition, participants who became engaged with the ROC’s extended empowerment services moved to permanent housing and, in several cases, employment.

Director of the ROC’s Code Blue program, Camille Arth, said: “By offering Code Blue to southern Erie County, we are able to provide not only acute assistance, but also services that move clients beyond their immediate needs. This is consistent with our model of care — to provide multiple services in one location to empower individuals to improve their life situation.”

The ROC also offers a daytime warming opportunity, critical in rural areas, where access to daytime shelters, such as libraries, is limited. The daytime service is staffed by volunteers and meals are donated. Anyone, or any group, wishing to support this service should contact the ROC at (716) 240-2220. 

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