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YWCA expands housing project for homeless
Rochester, N.Y.-- On Tuesday, the YWCA of Greater Rochester held a groundbreaking for their much-awaited housing expansion project.
For six years, the agency had been trying to add more housing units to serve the homeless female population. However, the recession slowed down their progress.
The economy-- it was just horrible, explained YWCA CEO and President Jean Carroll. I would tell you that the great recession has impacted the not-for-profits and the financing of any types of capital improvements.
With the help of more than ten financing entities and their developer Conifer Realty, the YWCA is now able to move on with their project.
The 5 million dollar expansion would add 14 new permanent residential units that will be subsidized by Section 8 Assistance. The existing 96 housing units will all undergo renovations.
The building that houses the YWCA was built in the 1950s. The new project will also allow for the buildings roof and mason work to be repaired and improvements will be made to the park and playground.
Carroll explained that this project could not come any sooner.
What you see [in many cases of homelessness], is a round robin of recidivism and that's so distructive to your kids, she said. We've seen a 61 percent increase in our services to women and children in the past year.
On any given night in Rochester, there are more than 600 people who are homeless.
Giving people a place to live and giving them stability in their lives so they can move ahead and get employed and become taxpayers themselvesthats just incredible, Carroll explained.
Dellaena Harper could not agree more.
Six years ago, Harper was a homeless drug addict who had just gotten out of jail. She believes the YWCA saved her life.
I came here on my knees, she recalled. I left here standing and walking-- a walking woman.
She said that the YWCA was able to provide her with the housing and services she needed to get her life back together.
I think for anyone to be successful they need a safe place to stay, Harper said. I know, because I was on the streets and homeless for over ten years, and there is no way to be successful like that. I'm fully sustainable now. I need no governmental assistance. I'm thankful for it, but it's great to be self-sufficient.
Things have come full-circle for Harper. After leaving the YWCA after two years, she went onto earn her bachelors degree and then a masters degree in social work. She is now the executive director at Jennifer House- Spiritus Christi Prison Outreach a housing assistance agency at which she once received services.
The YWCA housing expansion project will be completed March 2014.