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City and County Announce Funding to Help those Facing Evictions, Homelessness

By Tyronda James
tyrondajames@minorityreporter.net

Mayor Lovely A. Warren stands with tenant, Luther Knight (far left) and Deputy County Executive Corinda Crossdale announcing City-County Eviction Prevention Pilot Initiative. Photo by Tyronda James/Minority Reporter Media Group.

The city and county are encouraging renters facing a possible eviction to apply for Emergency Rental Assistance. 

Rochester Mayor Lovely A. Warren and held a news conference Tuesday, discussing the City-County Eviction Prevention Pilot Initiative. Rochester and Monroe County received almost $40 million in rent-relief funding to help prevent evictions and homelessness in our community thanks to the efforts of U.S Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer.

The initiative comes just in time for the scheduled May 1 lift of the New York State moratorium on evictions, passed in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic. As many eviction-prevention and homeless services organizations prepare for a surge of eviction notices, which threaten to overwhelm the community’s capacity to provide human services to families.

“We recognize the unique challenges of this economic crisis, and we must do all we can to alleviate the pain and suffering of our most vulnerable residents and their families, many of whom will soon be confronted with the prospect of eviction,” Warren said. 

Warren said partnerships help preserve and protect the fundamental human right of safe, quality and affordable housing, a critical component of the city’s efforts to create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities.

Luther Knight, a resident at the Charlotte, 120 Charlotte Street said he was impacted by the pandemic when his hours were cut at work. Knight said the program has really helped him. “I’m one that’s still working and still struggling to make ends meet and pay rent and have a roof over my head,” he said. “Being able to have a calm heart and know that my rents paid and everything is going good. It’s, it’s, it’s a blessing. It’s little as calling 211, it’s just that simple.”

Bret Garwood, CEO of Home Leasing and Knight’s landlord. Garwood wants to encourage tenants to reach out and get the help that they need, as well encouraging other landlords to be patient and work with tenants. “What’s great about this program is it encourages landlords and tenants to be partners in solving this problem we’re facing as a community,” he said. “I believe that if we work together, we can avoid displacement, evictions, …these are not types of things that should happen in the context of a pandemic. I am very grateful for these resources.”

The following resources are available for those needing help:

For Emergency Rental Assistance, Call 211 to apply. (Open 24 hours. As of April 1, new income criteria has been applied to applications; and landlords are able to apply for rental assistance on behalf of consenting tenants.)

Housing Hotline: The Housing Council at PathStone Housing Hotline hosts counselors who answer questions and provide advice on tenant and landlord issues. It is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call (585) 546-3700. Free Legal Representation is available through the Tenant Defense Project (an initiative of local legal-services agencies that provides free legal representation to tenants facing an eviction.) To apply for free legal representation visit www.TenantDefense.org or call (585) 504-6195.