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City of Rochester Releases Homelessness Resolution Strategy

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Rochester: City of Rochester Releases Homelessness Resolution Strategy
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The City of Rochester is trying to find answers to its chronic issue of homelessness. The city recently released its Homeless Resolution Strategy to tackle the problem.

About five to six hundred men a year at the Salvation Army's Booth Haven Shelter face the day to day challenges of being homeless.

"I've been here for 44 days as of now," said Robert Rivera of Rochester.

Rivera says during his stay, he's spent most days looking for work and getting his life back on track.

"I've been doing a lot of footwork getting places and running around looking for apartments," he said.

Rivera hopes to transition into his own place within the next week with the help of the shelter's community resources. Still, he says making the move is not easy.

"My background is a convicted felon. I don't mind saying that. When I have to fill out for an interview for an apartment or what not, sometimes they look at that and it hinders me," said Rivera. "Then there's also the landlords. They are not taking DSS vouchers anymore, the landlords. Then you have to find out how to come up with security deposits."

To help those in similar situations as Rivera, the City of Rochester has been working on a study to help identify unmet needs for homeless housing. The report calls for a plan to implement more permanent housing options for the most difficult to serve homeless population.

"We could do a better job of making sure we're not just housing people, but we're housing them in a way that they get connected with something that gets them out of this problem," said Rochester Mayor Tom Richards.

The study is also recommending the development of a Coordinated Access System where agencies work together to resolve similar issues. That is something Booth Haven Program Manger Lamonze Hunter agrees with.

"The idea itself is a great idea," said Hunter. "If all the agencies are able to coordinate as one and to actually, Rochester in a sense actually working as one team, instead of just the Salvation Army doing all the work or somebody else doing all the work."

The city believes the effort will save money in the long run. And as Rivera moves forward, he has his own ideas.

"All you have to do is go down a city street and you see some nice houses, big houses that are totally boarded up that the city owns," said Rivera. "I don't see why they couldn't turn them into shelters for people that are coming from here and then making them into their permanent residents."

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