City Planning Commission OKs special use permit for homeless housing at 204 S. Plymouth, with conditions

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Rochester City Planning Commission held a public hearing Tuesday night for the request of a special use permit to place temporary homeless housing in the Corn Hill neighborhood. The permit is for a former hotel at 204 S. Plymouth Ave.

The commission approved the request for the permit — with the conditions that the applicant converts 1,175 square feet of proposed open space from asphalt parking lot to unpaved recreation area, with appropriate safety protections.

This housing plan comes with many questions from neighbors, but one homeless woman News10NBC spoke with says the facility would be an answer to her prayers.

A fire in December on Otis Street left Karen Fox and her son homeless. It’s a situation she never imagined she would be in.

“Thank you, Jesus, I did not die in that fire,” she said.

Fox added: “They have to have more help. Everybody, all the citizens, want to say ‘Oh, homeless are always drunks and addicts. No, we are not. There’s families, there are 70-year-old women with their children that want a roof over their head.”

Monroe County would lease the facility for five years from James Philippone, the owner of the property on 204 S. Clinton Ave. They are seeking to convert the property into an emergency homeless residential facility.

Morton Segelin, the agent and property manager, said, “It is a permitted use, but because the permitted use is being changed in terms of occupancy, it technically requires a special use permit.”

The county says the homeless housing facility would offer 58 rooms for families, food services and a recreation center.

Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart says the need has never been greater for homeless housing. She says the county housed 600 families last year, and this year on any given night 200 families are homeless.

“We desperately need housing for families that are experiencing homelessness. Right now Monroe County is housing many of these families in hotels or motels,” Barnhart said.

Some neighbors in the Corn Hill neighborhood say they don’t oppose the homeless housing proposal — they want to be a part of the homeless solution in the county — but they have some concerns.

“I heard many times tonight, ‘We intend to have families.’ But they won’t put that, or haven’t put that, into the permit or the change they are looking for,” Kevin Petrichick said. “We want to see that it actually says that so that if they go outside of that, they need to go back.”