Amid complaints of homeless in Civic Center parking garage, legislators vote to up enforcement |

Amid complaints of homeless in Civic Center parking garage, legislators vote to up enforcement

Charles Molineaux
Updated: May 11, 2021 11:09 PM
Created: May 11, 2021 10:46 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Monroe County lawmakers Tuesday voted to mandate action to deal with homeless people who’ve moved into the parking garage for the Civic Center.

The county legislature passed a measure calling for enforcement to move them out and new spending to give them somewhere to go.

People who park there say it's become a scary problem while advocates say just kicking them out isn’t the answer.

Homeless advocate Sister Grace Miller visited the Civic Center parking garage Tuesday to talk to some of the people who've been staying there. At the same time, we're told their presence touches off concerns for people who park there for work every day.

"It can be very frightening when you are approached by individuals,” explained Mitchell Chait, of Brighton, who parks in the garage daily. "They do leave messes. I can always tell, in the stairwells, that they've been there."

"Their actions, being aggressive,” County Legislator Karla Boyce (R, Henrietta, Mendon, Pittsford, Rush) said. “They’re definitely instilling fear in people who have to be there every day."

So by a margin of 17 to 11 Monroe County Legislators passed a resolution calling for enforcement of existing laws to get the homeless out of the garage, and for the county to use federal coronavirus aid to relocate them somewhere safe and appropriate.

The plan brought criticism from some legislators.

"I am concerned that the wording which mentions ‘enforcement’ could lead us to try and arrest our way out of it,” Legislator Michael Yudelson (D, Henrietta, Pittsford) said. “And I think most of us agree that's not the best course of action.”

"Because what they're doing is wrong,” added Miller, who says she went through a similar expulsion of the homeless from the same garage years ago.

She’s also skeptical about claims of them being aggressive or scary.  

“I don’t know if that was overplayed, if it was really was done,” Miller said. “We did not see that. So, I don’t know where that’s coming from. If it’s as bad as they say, or if they’re just trying to put the people out."

Chait, who has gone through the garage daily for years, says even he has tried to encourage the people he encounters to find help somewhere else. 

“I have quite frankly mentioned to them, ‘If you’re homeless, if you need assistance, there is aid out there. It’s available,’” he said. “But I guess it goes to the issue, maybe, of accountability."

In spelling out the resolution, Legislator George Hebert (R, Penfield, Webster) said the time has come to address what causes some people to be homeless, that everyone deserves a safe place to sleep and deserves to be safe to freely travel, and park in Monroe County. 

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