UPDATE: Buffalo State University Interim President Bonita R. Durand said in a statement at 6:43 p.m. that Jericho Road notified the university that it has identified housing for the 44 asylum seekers who were evicted from their housing on Buffalo State’s campus.
“Jericho Road delivers an important service to this region. We are proud to collaborate with and support an organization that shares in our mission of service, and commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion,” Durand said.
News 4 spoke with Durand again Tuesday morning as Buff State students were moving in.
“We did as much as we could to help them,” Durand told us, saying Buff State believed temporarily housing the asylum seekers was the right thing to do at the time.
“They had asylum seekers that they just couldn’t place,” Durand said.
According to Durand, the school allowed them to stay longer than their contract allowed, in order to get everyone placed elsewhere. She says many of the migrants were placed in permanent residences, so they won’t have to move again.
“That is a very good thing, and we were happy to be a part of helping Jericho Road achieve that accomplishment,” Durand said.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — 44 asylum seekers who are being housed temporarily at Buffalo State University are now looking for a new place to stay, after the university decided not to extend an existing agreement because it needs space for students.
Nonso Akg is one of those migrants who doesn’t know where he’s going to go next.
“I’m a human being,” he told News 4’s Sarah Minkewicz. “Where am I going? All my life I’ve been just homeless.”
Akg fled Nigeria for his safety and has been in Western New York since April 2022.
“We are all human,” Akg said. “I’m never happy leaving my country to the United States. If I was okay where I am I don’t think I would leave my country. Coming here is circumstances that made me be here.”
He’s being assisted through Jericho Road Community Health Center’s Vive Shelter. The shelter is at full capacity and Akg was placed in temporary housing at Buffalo State University.
“Coming to Buff State we was opportune to have this very place, all of a sudden we are told that we are going to move out,” he said. “All this while, I’ve been homeless status since 2010.”
The asylum seekers had been at Buffalo State since May, which the school said was a “temporary solution” and a “steppingstone for Jericho Road for more permanent housing.”
“At the request of Jericho Road and for the safety of those families and our campus community, this revocable permit was not publicized. Jericho Road recently requested an extension through February. As the academic year begins, it is crucial we continue to ensure our focus is on launching the academic year for students and the Buffalo State campus,” Buffalo State interim president Dr. Bonita Durand said as part of a statement. She said that school decided to not enter into an additional revocable permit.
Jericho Road CEO Dr. Myron Glick said that the decision by Buffalo State “was influenced by prejudice in the Buffalo community against asylum seekers.” The asylum seekers are part of Jericho Road’s “Vive” shelter.
The removal comes on the heels of two asylum seekers in Western New York being arrested in recent weeks. On August 8, 26-year-old Jesus Guzman-Bermudez, from Venezuela, was accused of rape, which allegedly happened in the presence of a 3-year-old child. Officials said he knew the victim. Four days later on August 12, 22-year-old Kindu Jeancy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was accused of sexually assaulting a hotel employee, also in Cheektowaga.
Those arrests led to Poloncarz announcing that an agreement was made with New York City mayor Eric Adams that no more asylum seekers would come to the area.
“These asylum seekers have fled atrocities in their home country and are seeking a safe place to call home here in our community,” Dr. Glick said. “When we do nothing as others suffer, we become responsible for what we witness. We know this community to be a welcoming place, we know it as ‘the city of good neighbors.’ It is time for that Buffalo to step up.”
Buffalo State said they are attempting to work with Jericho Road to find that permanent housing.
“I want to reassure you we have taken measures to support the Jericho Road clients affected by this decision,” Durand said. “We have attempted to connect Jericho Road to local organizations that we hope can help find alternate housing for the clients of Jericho Road.”
Dr. Glick says that Jericho Road is “committed” to finding temporary shelter for the 44 who will leave Buffalo State.
Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.