January 2023

Housing is a Human Right

Notes from the Board

Meet Our Newest Board Member:

At the January meeting of the Board, Emery T. Lewis, Pro Bono & Special Impact Specialist at Nixon Peabody, was nominated and voted in as a Board member. He is filling a vacancy whose term will end in 2024. Emery joined the Tiny Home Team some months ago, and now we welcome him to our Board. 

A note from Emery:

“I believe that housing should be a basic right that everyone has access to. The homelessness crisis that our city and country face is dire, and if it is not addressed will continue to erode the foundation of humanity. I joined REACH with the understanding that I am in a unique position to utilize my resources to help Rochester’s homeless population. It is very important to me to give back and pay it forward. I am very fortunate to live the life that I do, and I am dedicated to helping as many people as possible. REACH has given me that opportunity.”

Shelter Update

On Monday evening, January 9th, 2023, the first guests walked through the doors of Project Haven’s very first shelter. They were a couple who had lived in a tent for the past nine months, including the subzero temperatures of Christmas weekend, refusing to go anywhere not connected to REACH. It was our honor and privilege to welcome them, and the significance and symbolism are not lost on us.

Project HAVEN staff celebrating Opening Day.

The HAVEN Team has worked tirelessly over the past year to create a model of excellence for the care and treatment of individuals suffering from the trauma of prolonged homelessness. We have forged relationships within Project HAVEN and collaborated with community partners to create a framework that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

These relationships are allowing us to serve the most vulnerable among us:

  • The chronically homeless who often have substance abuse and/or mental health disorders
  • The LGBTQIA+ community who are often unaccepted and at high risk in regular shelters
  • Women who are being trafficked and need to be protected from their trafficker and removed from their life on the street.
  • People who have fought their demons and are now in need of a safe sober living environment to fortify their recovery
  • A safe, affordable option for those who come through the HAVEN, thrive, and need a more independent living arrangement.

It is our intention to not punish people if they should falter but rather to move them up and down within the HAVEN as need dictates. It is often what we laughingly call the Hotel California model… Once you check in you never check out. This will prevent people from having to return to the streets and allow them to regroup and continue their journey when ready.

Importantly, each person will have their own room. During COVID we learned how important it is for a person to have their own space. It is an immeasurable help with symptom management and allows people to rest and recuperate with dignity not afforded in the usual shelter setting.

None of this would be possible without the help so many of you have given us over the years.

Now that we have six sites to supply, we are asking for your continued support. We are in need of the following items to supply our scattered sites. These items can be purchased locally and dropped off, purchased through the Amazon wish list. You can also donate through our website. Cash donations allow us to purchase essential items as needed for Project HAVEN.

Please email or call Matt Smeltzer for drop-off donations, at 585-331-0018.

Tiny Homes Update

Edgerton Meadows: A REACH Advocacy Community.

Greater Living Architecture, our architect, created the above draft rendering as we prepare to meet with key players from the City’s Department of Neighborhood and Business Development. They also provided us with an updated architectural plan. We have links to both documents at the bottom of our website for viewing here.

City Roots signed the contingent Option Agreement to purchase the property. We anticipate having the signed document returned later this month.

We began talks about installing solar on the rooftops of the units. With the size of the dwellings and other energy-efficient building practices, solar will provide most of our electric usage.

We signed a contingent letter of commitment with Daisy Marquis Jones. Contingencies for funding require us to have all Zoning approvals before releasing the funds. Their significant contribution brings us to 65% funded for Phase one. 

We will update you on our new Founders next month. We are still accepting tax-deductible donations from individual donors. Collectively, your contributions designated to Edgerton Meadows have nearly funded the construction of one tiny home.

Advocacy Team Update

This month we are launching the Rochester Campaign for Housing as a Human Right!  

In last month’s column, Peter raised this key question: What do we need to do to change the narrative around housing and make it one of the rights we defend in our society? He then went on to invite readers to reply and, if they are interested, to please join us. We are delighted to report that six readers have expressed an interest in joining us! A plan for the evening is taking shape and we will send out the Zoom link for this conversation on Friday, January 20th. Stay on the lookout for an email from: [email protected] If you would like to join our conversation email this same address.

This campaign will follow the late Bruce Popper’s urge to all organizers who seek social change—educate—agitate—organize. First, we will ask: What do we need to know about housing policies and practices? Who holds the power that shapes these policies and practices? But knowledge unrelated to action will not change the narrative so at some point we need to identify whom we need to agitate if change is to happen. And, as we grow, we will need to organize to sustain our campaign. Stay tuned!

What you can do now:

Join Housing Justice for All and use their action menu to contact your representatives.

Thank you to our readers!

We wish you a peaceful and prosperous 2023. We are grateful for your continued support of REACH Advocacy, Inc, and we look forward to a new year with our dedicated supporters.