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The weather may fluctuate, but Code Blues continue

Buffalo's two downtown homeless shelters were crowded Sunday night, as another Code Blue was declared, with the snow and cold.

In recent years, city demolition policies and development of old and abandoned buildings have made it harder and harder for the homeless to find their own places to hang out and try to stay warm. Even bridge repairs have made it difficult to hide in the structures.

David Robinson said things can go bad and not turn around and then you are homeless.

"I've been running a streak of bad luck for like three years. Three years," Robinson said. "I had an apartment. Things didn't go right. I lost that one and I'm thankful for these people here."

Robinson said there is one imperative: staying warm.

"You know they got a lot of buildings half-torn down. Some houses, where some of the wood ain't up," he said. "You got to keep warm. If it get too cold out here and none of these places are open, trust me, we've got to find some place to stay warm."

Robinson said he could also hang out at the bus station or the park, "if it ain't too cold." He said the donated mats given to the homeless, knitted from waste plastic, really make a difference.

The two-member outreach team of Keon Walker and Nicholas Tarc was out on the streets making sure homeless people know there are really warm places.

"Usually, what we do is we put flyers all around so people can know, like at the Erie County Public Library, so people know where to go if they need shelter. Yeah, basically do that kind of thing. Everybody already knows to go to Harbor House. So if they go to Harbor House, they go to the Harbor House and get dropped off over here."

Tarc said there does not seem to be as many homeless people around, potentially showing the success of several programs to find homes for the homeless.

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.
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