Covid has put landlords and tenants in a tough spot. The Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Housing is stepping in to try and make a difference at the Doris W. Jones Community Center in Niagara Falls as well as the Lockport Housing Authority.

Richard Thomas, LMSW is program director and was present at a family fund day celebration in Niagara Falls last week.

“There are several agencies people are told they can call,” he said, “but we are told we are the one who answer the phone.”

Right now it takes a cooperating tenant and a landlord working together to get the program to work. Tenants everywhere are behind on rent.

Thomas said he strives to make a difference.

“I go hard for the landlord in terms of getting them taken care of because no one talks about their end of things,” he explained.

In addition to rent assistance, BFNC offers a host of other services for families, according to CEO Chandra Redfern.

Assistant Program Director Alicia Hutton helps focus on the restorative justice end of things. Hutton said too often the justice system focuses on incarceration rather than rehabilitation and reintegration.

She works with juveniles mandated to the program to help them learn anger control, moral reasoning and maturity as well as empathy.

The programs were founded by the late Rev. Jimmie Seeright. Lockport and Niagara Falls face similar problems with drugs, violence, mental health and poverty even if the demographic skew racially.

“We’ve had youths out for placement who come back, finish high school, got to college and end up employed in the community,” Hutton said.

Redfern explained the BFNC works hard to be inclusive.

“You can’t service kids without servicing the family as a whole,” she said. ”We try to pivot to keep the kids on the straight and narrow.”

More information in Lockport is available by calling (716)-727-3021 or visiting 301 Michigan St.

For information in Niagara Falls, visit 2002 Forrest Ave. or call (716)-282-2217.

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