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City Mission unveils expansion plans

WBFO News file photo

City Mission wants to expand at its current location, a move officials believe will continue to thin the ranks of the area's homeless.

Mission leaders brought their plans to a public meeting Monday night in the Pratt-Willert Community Center, making the first public announcement of the plans in the neighborhood in which it operates. There will be other public meetings later.

Executive Director Stuart Harper says demand is so great that the current space is overflowing with people just about every night. Harper says one part of the new building will be for people who have decided to turn their lives around and go back to school.
"We'll have 66 permanent housing units. So, once they have made that decision that they want to go into the education program, we call it our DREAM," Harper explained.

"Once they participate in our DREAM, then they can go up into one of  those rooms, finish their education, get into a job, acclimate themselves in that job and move out into a community where they want to spend the rest of their lives."

Instead of just a large room of beds and bunk beds for more than 80 visitors, there will be re-arranged space to give people some sense of security.

Harper says the expansion will cost around $26 million. Ground breaking is expected about a year from now; the opening would take place two years from now.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.