By Tyronda James
Soon, Rochester’s homeless veterans will find additional space to call home and receive assistance. The Veterans Outreach Center (VOC) recently broke ground on renovations to the Richards House, an emergency shelter for homeless veterans, located at 290 Cypress St., Rochester, NY 14620.
The renovations will expand an existing Richards House building that will include 34 units of transitional and emergency housing for male veterans experiencing homelessness.
“These much-needed renovations will give homeless veterans in need a safe, supportive place to call home while they build themselves back up. Not only will they have a warm bed to sleep in, but they will also have access to the full array of services available at Veterans Outreach Center,” said VOC Executive Director and U.S. Army Veteran Laura Stradley.
“The renovations to Richards House are critical to giving local veterans the foundation they need to get back on their feet and thrive.”
The project is expected to take about a year to complete the expansion.
For more than 45 years, the VOC has housed and provided supportive services to Rochester veterans. Richards House serves veterans with a mental health diagnosis, who are physically disabled, or with substance use disorder. The renovated space will also include new space for counseling meetings and therapy sessions.
“Our homeless veterans deserve our very best efforts to provide necessary housing, mental health and addiction services, and we are very proud to have the Veterans Outreach Center doing just that in Rochester,” Rochester Mayor Malik D. Evans said. “This expansion of the Richards House further demonstrates our commitment to honor those who have served our country”
To make this $6.2 million project possible, the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s (OTDa) Homeless Housing and Assistance Program (HHAP) provided $2 Million in state funding. The VOC’s Operation Safe Haven campaign helped raise millions for these much-needed updates, and they received additional funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Office of General Services and private donors.
The HHAP is an important component of Governor Kathy Hochul’s sweeping plans to make housing more affordable, equitable and stable throughout the state. Through HHAP, NYS has appropriated more than $1.2 billion toward the development of supportive housing and has created more than 22,000 units of housing to support individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
Far too often veterans unfortunately experience homelessness and do not receive the essential care and support they need when they return to civilian life, Congressman Joe Morelle said. , “We have a responsibility to do more to support our nation’s heroes—that’s why I’m so proud to have advocated for this expansion of Richards House that will provide a lifeline for struggling veterans.”
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, “No one who sacrificed for this country’s freedom should wonder where they’ll sleep or where their next meal will come from—the renovations of the Veterans Outreach Center’s (VOC) Richard’s House will see to it that fewer veterans experience these issues.”