ROCHESTER, N.Y. — As volunteers unload supplies into a vacant house, the November chill is already beginning to take hold. It's a race against the clock for REACH volunteers, who plan to make an old house on North Union livable before the snow starts to fall. REACH stands for Rochester Engaging in Action for the Chronically Homeless.
On Monday, REACH had some help from the neighboring Dimitri House. The nonprofit Rochester organization that helps those in need owned the house on North Union. Organizers decided to offer it to REACH for the season to provide shelter for up to 20 homeless men and women.
“It is a win-win. It absorbs a lot of people that we can't take in,” said Laurie Prizel, executive director of the Dimitri House. “The house is very small. Like I said we only hold seven individuals. So this will absorb at least 21, give or take a few, on those cold nights to try to keep people warm."
But there's still work to be done. The house has sat vacant for more than six years, and has almost no furniture. That's why REACH is working to set up beds and other accommodations in the house. They're also working to make sure everything meets Rochester's occupancy requirements.
Reverend Dr. Peter W. Peters is chairman of the team dedicated to the Reach House, a humanitarian project that draws volunteers from a diversity of backgrounds throughout Rochester.
"We have to make that we meet all of the city codes, fire escape, fire alarms, that we are not overfilling the building," said Peters. "We are people who have simply looked at the homeless situation, and were shocked at the way the homeless were treated three years ago when the city bulldozed tent city, and then there was sanctuary village in an abandoned factory building with no running water. We simply said ‘never again.’ We don’t think that’s the way for Rochester to treat their homeless people."
REACH accepts cash, clothing, food and other donations, and welcome any kind of volunteers. They hope to start housing people at the new location on November 19. Anyone interesting in helping can visit https://www.facebook.com/shelterforhomelessrochester/