ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Rochester's homeless community continues to lobby for the right to spend nights in the Civic Center Garage as homeless advocates are working toward finding a community shelter to house those with nowhere else to go.
About a dozen homeless people attended a meeting of the Civic Center Local Development Corporation Thursday morning. They asked the board to allow the homeless continued use of the Civic Center Garage as a place to stay. They say shelters fill up quickly during the cold winter months and the garage is a last resort.
"We refer people even to the garage because we tried everywhere else. We heard House of Mercy was full, we heard Open Door was full and the county is full, they're even telling us their full. At this point in time we say, 'Hey, we may have to even send them to the garage,' which is our last ditch effort," said Tom Malthaner, of St. Joseph's House of Hospitality.
Advocates for the homeless say they've found a place for a community shelter. Now they're asking the Civic Center LDC to hold off on evicting homeless people from the garage until that shelter is up and running.
Sister Grace Miller says the Huther Doyle Building at the corner of North Clinton Avenue and Cumberland Street is the preferred site for the shelter. However, the property is not zoned for that use and a change in the city zoning variance is needed.
"The mayor did ask me if the House of Mercy would take the lead on this and we are willing to do this. But we need the help of the city to the variance and the help of the county to pay for the building and staffing," Sister Miller said.
Besides holding off on kicking the homeless out of the garage, Miller is asking the Civic Center LDC board to speak to the county administration in an effort to move this project forward.
"I think there's some more work that needs to be done quite frankly. What I've seen as far as the Civic Center is a lot of compassion and getting input from Sister Grace and all the advocates that are out there, including myself, for the homeless," said David Moore, Civic Center LDC board president.
Miller says the building is in good shape and doesn't need a lot of work. She says people are ready to pitch in including some of the homeless population.