City is working alongside charities and county services to address homelessness

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Mayor Malik Evans said that the City of Rochester is working alongside charities and county services to help homeless people find shelter.

Evans and his staff delivered a conference on Friday about solutions to homelessness. Evans said that the heroine-opioid epidemic and mental illness have contributed to homelessness.

The city is working to get homeless people help by funding Peace Village, a city-sanctioned homeless encampment. The nonprofit Person Centered Housing Options (PCHO) has worked at the encampment to help the residents. The city has supported its work by building temporary shelters at Peace Village.

The city has also worked with Monroe County agencies, such as the Monroe County Heroin Task Force, to improve outreach for mental health and addiction services. Data from the task force shows that there have been 97 fatal overdoses so far this year.

RPD Chief Smith spoke about how a non-arrest police response can help homeless people. He said the RPD Community Affairs Bureau on Thursday reached out to 12 homeless people, including three people who decided to seek housing through city services after the interaction. This week, RPD has reached out to help 50 homeless people.

Evans said that homeless is an issue that’s personal to him because his father, minister Lawrance Lee Evans, helped Rochester’s homeless population with his faith organization. Evans said volunteers at faith-based organizations in Rochester, such as the Open Door Mission, have done incredible work to serve homeless people.

“We cannot sit back and watch individuals with serious mental health, in many cases, substance abuse issues, stay in our streets night after night,” Evans said. “Winter is coming and that’s also why this is very important. This is a topic that we cannot ignore.”

The city is starting to collect data to determine how large its homeless population is. The city also used funding from its federal Emergency Solutions Grant to provide housing to homeless people.

You can see the full press conference here:

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