It is not just cities dealing with the reality of homelessness: Rural communities also face it, along with inadequate resources or opportunities for the disadvantaged. Agencies and advocates have teamed up in Canandaigua to take action for a brighter future.
Father Michael Costik of St. Benedict Parish says he has assisted in finding resources for people in need of food and shelter for years now, however, there is a challenge with satisfying demand.
“When they present themselves as homeless, who might be presenting with substance abuse or mental health,” said Costik. “Those people who are single; tend to be the hardest to serve in my experience here. Emergency housing for people who happen to be alone, strangely enough, seems to be very difficult.”
Just down the road, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for Happiness House Apartments Phase Two last Friday. The project is a progressive, affordable, and supportive housing development. Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul was in attendance to celebrate the expansion and good news.
“There’s a certain perception in rural areas that there are no problems,” said Hochul, “because they’re more hidden than they are in urban areas. Humans need help regardless of where you live. The governor, our team at Homes and Community Renewal, and other agencies work tirelessly to allocate $20 billion to create thousands of homes and we’re not finished yet.”
The next phase for Happiness House is a $9.7 million project. It adds 30 homes for families, seniors, and individuals facing homelessness, funded through Governor Andrew Cuomo’s five-year plan to combat homelessness and create affordable housing.
Mary Boatfield, president and CEO of Happiness House and Rochester Rehabilitation, shares what is in store and who can take advantage of the new property.
“It’s safe; it’s beautiful,” said Boatfield. “Twenty-two of the units will be one and two-bedroom units and eight of the units will be for individuals fifty-five and older.”
In a separate building, four of the units will be designated for the homeless. Five are set aside for individuals with a history of substance abuse or dealing with a developmental or acquired disability. Support services will be available on-site to help the residents succeed.
Projects like this, building up and strengthening communities across the state.
“We have additional property here,” said Boatfield. “So we are going to be looking at new innovative housing options.”