Local leaders, housing experts and people with lived experience with homelessness gathered to announce a major plan to tackle Rochester’s housing crisis. The Action Plan to End Homelessness calls on Monroe County to expand programs that work and fund new, evidence-based programs. The plan would provide housing to all who seek emergency assistance, including in shelters and permanent housing.
The announcement comes as County Executive Bello is preparing the 2024 budget. The plan would cost $45 million annually. Our proposal represents less than 5% of the Monroe County budget of $1.3 billion. Monroe County’s financial position is strong. The county can keep taxes flat, set aside reserve funds, AND pay for this proposal.
“Vocal NY is committed to ending homelessness in Monroe County. The only way that this will work is if the county really starts to take ownership and actually work together with the community and grassroots organizations to implement these solutions,” said Imani Addison, WNY Community Organizer for Vocal NY.
“Our community has the resources to end homelessness. What we have not had is the will,” said Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart. “This Action Plan provides a road map to provide housing for all. Let’s work together on getting these items done.”
- Housing Vouchers – People with lower incomes struggle to find affordable apartments. Housing vouchers bridge the gap between what people can pay and the cost of safe, quality units.
- Increase funding for emergency housing – The emergency housing system is underfunded, with daily rates too low for shelters to meaningful help individuals in crisis. The system needs more capacity. Outreach services must be better-supported, along with mental health and substance abuse programs.
- Peer Brokers & Peer Advocates – Trained brokers and Advocates with lived experience are needed to make a rent-gap subsidy (housing vouchers) successful. They would help people obtain apartments and strengthen housing retention.
- Create a Housing Task Force with a majority of members people impacted by homelessness to address the following:
- Adding standing (the right to bring a case) to the source-of-income discrimination law in the City Code
- Providing oversight of the administration of rent-gap subsidy
- Creating an unlivable housing stock list
- Review code enforcement to ensure habitable housing
- Create a SWOT analysis of current homelessness provider system
- Oversee and advise the implementation of the Action Plan to End Homelessness
Amy D’Amico, a housing justice advocate with Recovery All Ways who works at Center for Community Alternatives, explained, “Right now, rent assistance from DHS for an individual with no income is $440 a month. The Fair Market Rent in our area is $839 for a studio. No wonder people get stuck in shelters. This proposal will allow people to obtain apartments and will decompress emergency shelters– and with the influx of unhoused refugees, it’s not a moment too soon. I call on Adam Bello to support this Action Plan.”
Just this week, Empire Justice Center released a major report showing the state’s shelter allowance is inadequate. This proposal follows the report’s recommendations to fill in the gap for people with lower incomes who are seeking decent housing.
The Action Plan to End Homelessness can be found at monroehousingplan.com. We invite community members to provide feedback and share their ideas.