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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Brian Higgins (Western District of New York)

Community Missions & Pinnacle Community Services Win Awards to Lead Community Effort

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) and City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino joined Pinnacle Community Services, Community Missions of Niagara Frontier, the Homeless Alliance of Western New York and other community partners to announce over $1.22 million and a coordinated community effort to address youth homelessness in Niagara County. 

“A familiar proverb reminds us ‘it takes a village to raise a child” and the collaboration exemplified here represents an impressive and inspiring community alliance to help children and young adults in need,” said Congressman Higgins. “These federal resources will help build a stronger support system toward the goal of making sure Niagara County’s young people have a safe place to call home.”

City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said, “Nearly ¼ of all homelessness in Niagara County involves teens and young adults aged 12-24. These young people have often been abandoned or abused by a parent or caretaker. This funding will provide necessary assistance, guidance, and services to help curb this desperate situation, and Niagara Falls appreciates the efforts of Congressman Higgins to secure this funding. The two agencies receiving the award, Community Missions and Pinnacle, both based here in Niagara Falls, are excellent service providers and will most definitely provide the support needed for teens and young adults.”

“Through Congressman Higgins advocacy and this funding opportunity, our partners from Community Mission and Pinnacle community services will be able to expand their reach and help us have a positive impact on the teens and young adults struggling in our community,” added Lockport Mayor Michelle Roman.

Erie and Niagara Counties received a total of over $3.59 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program. A collection of local partners including a Youth Action Board spent months developing a Coordinated Community Plan for Ending Youth Homelessness. The plan notes approximately 750 unaccompanied and parenting youth in the region experience homelessness annually and another 1,600 are at risk of becoming homeless. Two agencies in Niagara County have been awarded a total of $1,220,650 to help homeless youth.

“Erie and Niagara Counties are only one of twenty two urban communities to receive the highly competitive (YHDP) grant from HUD in the amount of $3.6 million over two years,” said Dale Zuchlewski, Executive Director of the Homeless Alliance of WNY. “These funds will serve the ‘hidden’ homeless, those young and young adults that may not seek services through traditional resources.”

Community Missions of the Niagara Frontier will receive $850,468 to administer Joint Transitional-Rapid Rehousing services to youth ages 18-24 in Niagara County. This project will provide housing support through a transitional housing site temporarily, proceeding to a rapid rehousing program to help youth obtain their own apartment in the community. Support includes intense case management, life skills development and linkages to counseling, education, workforce training and employment.

Robyn L. Krueger, President & CEO of Community Missions of Niagara Frontier, Inc. said, “Community Missions is excited to have received this funding made available with support from Congressman Higgins.  Young adults in this age bracket are generally too old for children’s services and often skeptical about entering full adult services once away from home.  This demonstration project offers the opportunity to have grounded support in a safe and dependable environment from caring staff members while making these important life transitions and decisions.  Community Missions is proud to continue its service to the Niagara County community and grateful for its selection in this demonstration project programming.

Pinnacle Community Services will support a Family Engagement Team with the help of $370,182 in federal funding. This project, serving youth ages 12-24 in Niagara County, will focus on providing family mediation and wrap-around case management for youth and their families to help youth quickly resolve their homelessness or divert them from experiencing homelessness. Goals include building permanent connections between youth and their chosen family and providing linkages to mental health and substance abuse treatment.  As a proactive measure, Pinnacle will also collaborate with schools, social services and the justice system to identify those at risk of experiencing homelessness.

Laura Pennington Gawel, M.A., President & CEO of Pinnacle Community Services added, “For youth to have success in not only getting secure housing but maintaining a home, it is imperative to have opportunities to learn the skills they need.   Not only will 3D play an important role in helping youth to have access to linkages and referrals through coordinated entry into housing programs, the program will support them and their family with mentoring and case management support that will providing skill building activities.  When appropriate, the program will provide employment support, budgeting tools, and assistance in obtaining benefits to provide stability and connections that support each youth. Pinnacle Community Services is excited for this partnership opportunity to provide homeless and at risk youth across Niagara County with vital services and resources.  We are grateful for this investment from the Federal government during such an important and critical time for our youth.”