Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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Rochester

Backlash from Homeless Community Over Civic Center Garage

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Rochester: Backlash from Homeless Community Over Civic Center Garage
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A group of area homeless people gathered outside the Watts Building Tuesday morning. They were planning to attend a meeting of the Monroe County Civic Center Local Development Corporation. The homeless community says the LDC was to discuss the homeless living in the Civic Center Garage. Tuesday's LDC meeting was postponed.

"I'm not surprised at all. I was hoping they didn't cancel it. I was thinking maybe the weather because people are up and around so I feel it was purposely done," said Sister Grace Miller, House of Mercy.

Some of the homeless have few options. They can't get into shelters due to mental issues, drug use or simply because of overcrowding. For them, the garage is their only refuge.

"I've been homeless on and off down here for seven years, I've been down here permanently for the last three years. It's nice to have a warm place to go," said Jay Dee.

Advocates want the county to open a community shelter for the homeless. They believe it's the county's responsibility to take care of those who can't provide for themselves.

"The New York State Constitution requires that the state provide for the indigent and New York State has given that burden to the counties, the responsibility. This garage is owned by the Civic Center Local Development Corporation which is a creation of the county. It has been defacto the shelter for at least 30 years," said Harry Murray, St. Joseph House of Hospitality.

Some of the area's homeless say they have the skills to help build that shelter.

"I'm an ASE certified mechanic. I can do plumbing, ceramic tiles and such like that. I'm thinking if we got a bunch of us together maybe we can rehabilitate some house, somewhere, in a decent area though," Jay said.

For now, they say the garage is their safe haven.

The Civic Center LDC has rescheduled it's meeting for 9 a.m. Thursday.

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