Family Promise Rochester hosts housing forum

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(ABC 6 News) – Leaders from multiple organizations fighting homelessness got together for a housing forum Sunday. The organizations in attendance say they have all seen a huge increase in need since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Family Promise invited poverty-informed practice speaker Chad Dull to talk to the large crowd.

Dull, who says he grew up poor himself, says poverty is a circumstance, not a character flaw.

“We live in a society where we want to blame the poor for being poor,” Dull said. “If it’s not their fault, then it could happen to you and so we have to believe they goofed up, they made a mistake. And that is a dangerous thing to believe. It’s really dangerous because if we believe that being poor means you’re not as good or you make bad choices…then we start to believe that simply having money makes you a better person.”

Representatives from Family Promise Rochester also spoke about a potential partnership with Olmsted County. Executive Director Erin Sinnwell says Family Promise has not signed a contract, but the county bought a new building in south Rochester, and they’ve asked Family Promise to house people there. Family Promise says the new addition means they will be able to house more than 10 families throughout its three buildings.

“I remember our waitlist used to be maybe 15 families – maybe getting up to 20. And now it’s definitely in the high 20s,” Sinnwell said about the increase in demand.

Sinnwell hopes the new 9,000-square-foot building will help them tackle the increased need, but they’re also looking for more volunteers.

Family Promise hopes to have its new building up and running by Fall 2023.