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Couch-A-Thon, survey aim to raise awareness, measure level of teen homelessness

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Social and human service workers have carried out a two-part campaign to raise awareness of teen homelessness in the region.

At the Compass House emergency shelter on Linwood Avenue in Buffalo, volunteers stayed on a couch over a 24-hour marathon, from Friday morning until Saturday morning, to raise awareness of displaced teens who go from house to house to sleep on couches, instead of inside their homes.

The reasons why are plentiful, according to Lisa Freeman, executive director of Compass House. 

"There's a lot of family dysfunction," she said. "A lot of kids are asked to leave their homes. There's a lot of reasons why people are homeless. We just want to make aware the fact that the kids are out there and we want them to know about Compass House and the services we provide."

Among the risks of "couch surfing" is entry into a non-stop cycle of poverty. 

Homeless advocates were also conducting a survey to collect data that they hope will help secure funding to close gaps in the system. The Western New York Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Alliance estimate up to 2,000 youth are displaced in Erie and Niagara Counties. 

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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