Notes from the Board
The Board is very pleased with our four primary Teams – Shelter, Tiny Homes, Advocacy, and Development. They bring enthusiastic reports to our monthly meetings, but each of these teams needs additional volunteers to help with the REACH mission. Here is a summary of the challenges facing each Team:
  • Shelter – Though we will be closing this year’s winter shelter at the end of the month, the Shelter Team is already busy envisioning how we will approach next Winter’s challenges. In addition, this Team is exploring how we can best use 720 W. Main Street now that we have a long-term lease on this building. This team meets most Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m.  

  • Tiny Homes – This team has now identified a much better site for the Tiny Home Village and they're busy taking care of all the preparatory work that needs to be done to plan the building of the first phase, including engineering, architectural, neighborhood participation, etc. It is hoped that building will begin in the Spring of 2023. This team meets the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month at 10:00 a.m.

  • Advocacy – This is the newest active team and is charged with promoting the idea that housing is a human right and advocating for housing justice as the opportunity arises. This team meets every other Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. 

  • Development – This team is primarily concerned with funding and communicating our threefold mission. At present this team is engaged in grant writing to secure the funds needed to expand our support. Two primary goals are the present focus – funding the Shelter Team’s vision for next year, including funding a full-time Executive Director, and funding the first phase of the Tiny Home Village. This team meets on the 4th Friday of every month at 10:00 a.m.
Please consider becoming a REACH Volunteer on one of our teams. We believe that you will find yourself giving volunteer hours with people deeply committed to our vision of sheltering people experiencing chronic homelessness, increasing the supply of truly affordable supportive housing, and promoting housing justice. All meetings are held virtually via Zoom.

If you are interested, please email us at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you!

Shelter Committee Updates
Meet Our Guests:

This week I visited the guests at one of our sites. For the first time, REACH Home has included a site for LGBTQ guests, with each guest having their own room. I met Alonso DeThunder who grew up in Livonia. Alonso’s mother and father separated when Alonso was very young and has two brothers with different fathers, Ethan (24) and Landon (17). Alonso is now 27 and does not recall a time feeling comfortable with the birth identity given. Alonso now identifies as gender queer and prefers to be referred to by the gender-neutral pronoun "it". I confess that I am uncomfortable with “it” in reference to a person, but I will choose to honor Alonso’s wishes in this article when needed.
Despite some abuse by its father, Alonso now has a good relationship with both its mother and father, and with Ethan and Landon. Alonso has enjoyed having its own room at REACH Home and shares the space with cat, Bernstein. Bernstein is named after Jesse Bernstein, a favorite poet of it. Alonso has found the non-judgmental atmosphere at REACH Home a truly supportive community.

At some point Alonso became addicted to drugs and became homeless, but now is working at being sober. It attends Narcotics Anonymous sessions at the Catholic Family Center. Alonso also consults with a psychiatrist and a therapist and has hopes to get into graduate school at Syracuse University to do a Masters degree in Sociology. It has a Bachelors degree from SUNY Brockport with a major in Public Relations and a minor in Sociology. Alonso aspires to teaching in a community college and believes that in studying sociology we can learn about the forces that oppress us and discover ways to liberate those who are oppressed by social systems that ignore their individual needs.

Alonso knits and makes dish cloths that are sold in various craft outlets. Alonso loves to write poetry.  Here are two lines from a recent poem:
 Now that the drugs are not in my veins
 I can vividly see that my life is not in vain.

REACH wishes Alonso every success in this search for healing and a new beginning in life.

Submitted by Peter W. Peters.
Shelter Updates:

The REACH Home 2021-2022 will be closing on April 30th. We have managed to pull off the most dignified and innovative shelter any of us have ever been involved in. We could not have done it without the help and support of our many volunteers and partners.
We would especially like to thank the staff at St Peter’s Kitchen who have done outstanding work providing our guests with meals. For the entire shelter season, they prepared and packed breakfast and lunch for three sites for seven days a week and dinners on the weekend. When our contract for weekday dinners ran out on April 1st, they stepped up and prepared dinners for us the additional five days a week.
It is amazing to see the amount of preparation and organization it takes to provide food for 50 or so people in three different locations every day. Hot meals were packed separately in to-go containers and placed in insulated delivery bags. Cold items were wrapped and sorted by site and meal, then boxed with additional items such as salads and desserts. It became the responsibility of REACH to have drivers available to pick up and deliver the meals. It was a huge task that could never have been accomplished without the dedicated St. Peter’s Kitchen staff.

The pictures attached show weekend meals being prepared and boxed for transport. As you can see, our guests are very well fed!

If you'd like to make a donation to REACH, you can reach out to us at [email protected]. In addition, we have an Amazon gift registry you are welcome to explore.

As always, we appreciate your continued support.  

Tiny Home Village News
We met with the engineers and architect this month to map out our site plan. We shared our vision of a trauma-informed design for supportive housing. Additionally, we decided to make all of the homes ADA accessible to ensure no one would be turned away due to the unavailability of an accessible unit. We’re excited to see the initial concept plan and hope to share it in next month’s newsletter.
We met with the engineers and architect this month to map out our site plan. We shared our vision of a trauma-informed design for supportive housing. Additionally, we decided to make all of the homes ADA accessible to ensure no one would be turned away due to the unavailability of an accessible unit. We’re excited to see the initial concept plan and hope to share it in next month’s newsletter.

We also held a listening session with some of our shelter guests. We asked, “What would help you feel safe in a supportive home and community?” We gained insights we would not have considered if we hadn’t reached out to our guests. We thank them for their valuable input.

The team made our first site visit, where we met with some of the neighbors who have volunteered to help us build the Tiny Home Village. They will help us distribute flyers this weekend to nearby neighbors. In the photo from the left: Carol, Charlene, Marcia, Curtiss, and Patrick.

We had an initial meeting with Rochester Housing Authority's CEO, Shawn Burr. We discussed our desire to certify the entire project for Section 8 vouchers to allow our tenants to pay no more than one-third of their income for housing costs.
Help Wanted:

We’re starting Saturday spring cleanup on the property. We will provide gloves, bags, and hand-held tools. We also need people with chainsaws to clear larger limbs.

If you want to lend a hand, please reach out to us by email at [email protected] or call (585)-364-1709.
New Founders This Month:

  • Jim White and April Luehmann 
  • The Rev. Leslie Burkardt, St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church
  • Bridget Hurley

We thank all our founders as they work collaboratively to build “The Founder’s Home.” 

You can become a founding member of the Tiny Home Village with your tax-deductible donation of $250 or more. For more information, visit our website.

Advocacy Committee
The REACH Advocacy team is now meeting every other Wednesday at 4:30. Interested readers who wish to join us should write to Rudy Rivera at [email protected].

We are working to clarify our advocacy goals as we help REACH become a voice for housing justice based on the value that Housing is a Human Right. Here is some good news: The Secretary of HUD, Marcia Fudge, embraced the value that housing is a human right. It is this value that keeps driving REACH’s mission to house those experiencing chronic homelessness. Read more here.
This month we are collaborating with the City-Wide Tenants’ Union in their campaign to stabilize housing for the 70% of the Rochester population who rent especially those who live on very low income or are vulnerable to unjust eviction practices. 

Over 40 eviction hearings are heard in City Court each day. This is the source of housing vulnerability and chronic homelessness. For reference, we recommend Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, NY: Broadway Books, 2016.

This week members of the Advocacy Team will meet with Council President Miguel Melendez and Council Member Mitch Gruber to explore how they might take a leadership role on behalf of this vulnerable population. Andy Carey, our lead social worker, will be joining us to talk about his experience with landlords who do not have a Certificate of Occupation, who fail to take care of their properties and use the eviction process to intimidate and punish tenants who speak up for their rights. We will be joined by Liz McGriff who is a leader in the City-Wide Tenants’ Union.

The Advocacy team meets every other week and is currently planning on meeting with members of the City Council to deepen the conversation around housing vulnerability in Rochester. Pictured above is Rochester's City Hall.
Housing News Worth Noting:

  • The City of Rochester, Minnesota joins the Federal Housing Program, “House America." Could this work here in Rochester, NY? Read more here.

Thank you to our readers!
We are grateful for your continued support of REACH Advocacy, Inc.