NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – Hundreds of people from across North America are working together in Niagara Falls in an attempt to address homelessness and create affordable housing in communities far and wide.

The 10th annual Housing and Special Needs Population conference got underway at the Niagara Falls Conference and Events Center Thursday morning.

More than 250 providers have come together for the yearly conference, representing a wide variety of communities and experiences. The group is as diverse as the populations they serve.

“The faces of homelessness are different, from veterans to children,” said the host of this year’s conference, Sara Taylor, CEO of Taylor Jones Event Management Services.

“We know in this country on any given night, there’s over half a million individuals that are homeless,” she explained.

The people attending this year’s conference want to change that.

Every year, non-profits, mental health and behavioral health providers, housing developers, and more all team up for two full days of workshops, networking opportunities, and presentations.

This year’s keynote speaker is a member of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce, offering his perspective on the partnerships that can be built between non-profit organizations and private businesses to develop affordable housing and provide services to people in need.

“Bringing organizations together to network, to talk about best practices and what is working really makes a difference, because it’s important. It may be able to be replicated in your community,” Taylor said. “We have Niagara Falls represented, we have Albany represented. we have individuals from Pittsburgh, Ohio, Erie, Syracuse Rochester, so everybody’s bringing their perspective, their models about what’s working in their community and how can we collectively make a difference as we work to ending homelessness.”

The conference continues through Friday afternoon, when the providers will head home to their own communities and start putting some of the lessons learned here to work for the people they serve.