Thursday, December 24, 2015

County to assist REACH homeless shelter

Posted By on Thu, Dec 24, 2015 at 11:50 AM

Monroe County officials will provide support for a temporary emergency homeless shelter after all.

The Rochester Emergency Action Committee for the Homeless had sought $50,000 in funding from the county for its shelter, which opened November 30 on Main Street. But county officials rebuffed the request, ostensibly over concerns about how the shelter would handle drug and alcohol abuse.

But today, County Executive Maggie Brooks and Legislator Anthony Daniele — whom the GOP has tapped to serve as the Legislature's president in 2016 — announced that the county will provide $50,000 worth of goods and services to support the REACH shelter. The county's contribution will come in the form of things such as meals, furniture, toiletries, and personal care products. It will not be cash. The contribution should, however, free up $50,000 in funding from the city, which wanted to see a county match for the funding.

"We are all just one life decision away from being in need," County Executive Maggie Brooks said during a press conference this morning.

The Rev. Peter Peters, a retired Episcopal priest and REACH member, says the in-kind gifts and services will help the shelter, since those are items it'd have to pay for anyway. But the the committee still needs to raise $60,000 to keep the East Main Street shelter operating through the winter. The REACH shelter will only operate this winter, since the House of Mercy's next emergency housing facility should be open by next winter, Peters says.

The REACH facility is aimed at some of the most difficult to serve members of the local homeless population. It's provided shelter for approximately 30 people a night since it opened and social workers there have placed several clients in permanent housing as well as directing others to treatment and services.

When the County Legislature approved the 2016 budget earlier this month, the GOP majority rejected a Democratic amendment to direct $50,000 to the REACH shelter. Brooks says Daniele approached her about finding a way for the county to help with the shelter. And Daniele says administration officials and REACH volunteers were able to work together to come up with the arrangement announced today.

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