New national partnership helps Rochester tackle homelessness

(ABC 6 News) – Leaders from Rochester and Olmsted County are forming a new partnership with a national organization, making a new commitment to make sure everyone has a safe place to lay their heads at night by joining House America. It’s a national partnership to use American Rescue Plan Act funds to help combat the issue.

Olmsted County dedicated $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to get the building on 105 Broadway Avenue North. It’s a place for those experiencing homelessness to stay but for some, it’s much more than that.

"I have family here and they want to see me you know, do better and because of this place, I know I am doing better," said Arlene Simone, a resident of Transitional Housing.

"I really am thankful, I have a bed to sleep in because I was living in a car."

This is Arlene, she moved to Transitional Housing last fall. She’s been homeless off and on for the last five years. A former addict, she says she has the resources to help with her addiction and other mental health issues.

"When I have a problem with anything, I can talk to just about any of the staff members. We each have an advocate staff member, so we, you know, sit down and do our goals or whatever, that kind of helps out too."

The partnership with House America is one piece of the puzzle to help address the ongoing issue of homelessness. In the last two and a half years, Olmsted County has helped in the creation of more than 200 new housing opportunities as well as case managing services.

"Partnerships like this make me so optimistic about the future of our community, and our partnerships with House America," said Mark Thein, the chair of the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners.

Rochester Mayo Kim Norton added: "A complex issue such as this, takes invested partners, commitment, innovative solutions, and we are grateful that community partnerships are providing this."

It doesn’t stop there, moving forward in partnership with the Coalition for Rochester Area Housing, the county plans to add another 120 housing units for families earning less than 50% of the area median income.

To top it all off, Olmsted County plans to help 100 households that previously experienced homelessness.

"I hope it helps a lot of people," Arlene said. "They need to have more housing, I think there needs to be more buildings, maybe they can find more buildings."

If you’re interested in giving back, Arlene said the building can never have enough toiletries or cleaning supplies.