Local organization using unique structure to house homeless community

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — It’s a basic need, but not everyone in our community has a place to call home, and that need is especially important when the weather gets cold.

Now one organization is helping some of Rochester’s less fortunate find a place to stay until they are back on their feet. A unique type of structure is popping up at Rochester’s Peace Village, a homeless encampment on Industrial Street.

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“So our goal is to do at least four more before the winter sets in,” said Paul Minor. He is the Past President of the Rochester Northwest Rotary Club, and his organization is on a mission to help get homeless people into temporary tiny homes. These single-occupancy homes will soon be added to the encampment.

“It’s 8×8, and it’s 10 feet high as part of the kit that you’re actually buying there’s a shelf at the far end, and then Persons Centered Housing will provide a single twin bed to go in there and fits quite nicely,” said Minor.

Built in seven hours with the help of refugees from Afghanistan and Congo, Minor and his fellow Rotarians donated a shelter last week to the camp. Minor says a new tenant has already moved in.

“She’s been living under a bridge, and she looks at this as a transition,” said Minor. “A step from the bridge to something that’s more protective of her security, and from the weather, and then to get into more permanent housing.”

Peace Village doesn’t have any electricity or heat. Porta-Potties are provided as well as running water. About eight people currently live there. Getting the homeless out of the elements is important, but for Minor and his fellow Rotarians, there’s a far more important meaning.

“I’m a retired architect,” said Minor. “For 20 years I’ve had an interest in affordable housing and any sort of services to help people who don’t have what I have.”

The Rotary Club hopes to build 20 more of these structures. Each tiny home costs about $2,500 and on average takes about 100 hours to build.