ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Calls for better housing in the Rochester community are being renewed as neighbors and members of the Housing Justice for All campaign raised their voices in unison Thursday night.
"You know we all want to live comfortable, we all want to live in nice neighborhoods. You know we don't want to live in slum houses," said Kawanais Smith, an organizer of the meeting at St. Mary's Church.
The group said they came out to demand answers from Governor Andrew Cuomo on rising rents, increased homelessness, landlord harassment and poor living conditions.
"We shouldn't have pipes bursting, we shouldn't have water frozen pipes because they're not taking care of," said Smith.
Those who attended were able to question a representative from the state, who assured the group that their voices were being heard.
"What has been a very active affordable housing community, and supercharge it so that as many low and very low income people have a place to live that they can afford," said Leonard Skrill of the New York State Homes and Community Renewal.
Current and former members of the city's homeless population attended, saying the lack of affordable housing has lead to a spike in homelessness.
"You have people that work everyday who go home to a shelter," said Smith.
But Skrill noted that the state has increased resources to combat the problem in the governor's proposed budget.
"In the past, budget resources to achieve our mission were expanded by $2.5 billion," said Skrill
Even with those additional resources, many believe that it will take stricter state laws to spark any change.
"We can talk all we want to talk, nothing's going to change, everything's going to be the same," said Smith.
"They should really be working with their local political leadership and their state political leadership to build a consensus for what they want," said Skrill. "And if that consensus is achieved there's a reasonable shot that the administration will support it."
The Housing Justice Campaign is also calling for a Just Cause Eviction Protection Program that would make it more difficult for a landlord to evict a tenant.