REACH Advocacy was born in 2015 when a group of citizens said NO to leaving the homeless out in the cold.
In 2014 the eviction of the homeless from their informal shelter in Midtown Garage, and the subsequent displacement and destruction of the Tent City set up in protest, precipitated a crisis.
Although a rough, warehouse-like shelter was arranged for that winter is was clear that more would be needed.
In 2015 the Rochester Emergency Action Committee for the Homeless (REACH) was formed with the mission of providing emergency winter shelter for those homeless persons who were unable to find shelter anywhere else. Thanks to dozens of volunteers REACH has created and staffed an emergency shelter each of the past five winters.
In 2015-16 we housed almost 150 men and women at REACH Home on Prince Street. We successfully placed over 50 persons in permanent housing.
At the end of this experience we reorganized as REACH Advocacy as a way for us to become advocates with and on behalf of the homeless. But soon we realized that there would be the need for another emergency shelter.
In the winter of 2016 – 17 we opened BRIDGE Home on Ontario Street as an emergency shelter. On average we housed over 40 men and women per night during the winter. Many of our guests were placed in permanent housing.
In November 2017 in cooperation with Dimitri House Inc, and the support of many volunteers we opened a new REACH Home for the winter of 2017-18. The Home closed on April 18 after hosting 115 male and 50 female guests, approximately 40% of whom transitioned to appropriate housing. Click here to see what REACH Home looked like.
During the winter of 2018-19 we were fortunate to be able to continue to partner with Dimitri House to operate the REACH Home on Union Street. Thanks to the efforts of our social work team more than 40% of our guests transitioned to permanent housing.
Our 2019-20 low-barrier emergency temporary wintertime shelter was at 720 West Main St., and operated from Thanksgiving through the end of April. Special thanks to Brother Antonios and the Coptic Christian Community, who gave us the use of their former monastery, and to the many volunteers who made a successful season possible.
As the pandemic surged in early spring it became clear that many of the housing-deprived would be at high risk, and that crowded shelters would provide an ideal environment for spreading the virus. With the support of the Monroe County Department of Human Services Emergency Housing Unit a collaborative effort to support hotel-based housing for those most at risk was put in place. The results were successful beyond expectations; read the latest report here.
Tiny Home Village
Beyond addressing immediate needs we work to find sustainable housing solutions and services to reduce the recurring need for these emergency arrangements. During the summer of 2018 we turned toward enabling a possible community of Tiny Homes.
Our story doesn’t end here. Please join us, and help us write a new chapter for Rochester’s homeless population.