The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance today announced that construction has begun on a $6.2 million project that will rehabilitate and expand an existing building that provides transitional housing to formerly homeless veterans in Rochester. The renovated Richards House will include 34 units of transitional and emergency housing for male veterans experiencing homelessness.
“We are pleased to partner with the Veterans Outreach Center on this important project to assist veterans experiencing homelessness, many of whom are dealing with physical and mental health challenges as a result of their service,” said Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Acting Commissioner Daniel W. Tietz. “Richards House can help these individuals get on a path toward permanent housing and living independently as part of the community.”
Veterans Outreach Center, Inc. has been housing and providing supportive services to veterans in the Rochester area for more than 45 years. Richards House serves veterans with a mental health diagnosis, who are physically disabled, or have a substance use disorder. The renovated space will include new space for counseling meetings and therapy sessions.
State funding for this project includes $2 million from the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s Homeless Housing and Assistance Program and $200,000 from the Office of General Services. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provided $1.1 million, with the remainder coming from Veterans Outreach Center and private donors.
Administered by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Homeless Housing and Assistance Program is an important component of Governor Kathy Hochul’s sweeping plans to make housing more affordable, equitable, and stable throughout the state. This includes a new $25 billion, five-year housing plan that will create and preserve another 100,000 affordable homes in urban and rural areas across the state, including 10,000 units with support services for vulnerable populations.
The Fiscal Year 2023 Executive Budget continues $128 million in capital funding for the program, which provides funding for projects that build or rehabilitate housing for people experiencing homelessness. During the current funding cycle, the program has allocated nearly $83.7 million that will create 618 units of permanent supportive housing, 14 units of transitional housing, and 67 units of emergency housing.
Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette M. Moy said, “Governor Hochul has made providing shelter and restoring hope among New York State’s homeless and struggling veterans a priority for her administration. The OGS team is proud to support this initiative in Rochester and to help those who have fought for us and made sacrifices in their lives to protect our freedoms.”
New York State Division of Veterans’ Services Director Viviana DeCohen said, “I applaud Governor Hochul for addressing veteran homelessness and making it a top priority in her administration. Without the ability to have affordable and safe housing, it becomes nearly impossible to address the other concerns these veterans face. These housing units will provide a foundation to address the other factors that impact homelessness and provide the life-changing opportunity for these veterans to access the care and services they need.”
Shawn J. De Fries, Acting Medical Center Director of the VA Finger Lakes Healthcare System, said, “We at VA Finger Lakes Healthcare System value our partnership with the Veterans Outreach Center. We believe these renovations and upgrades will improve privacy, safety, and quality of life for homeless veterans. We’re grateful for the collaborative efforts between the Veterans Outreach Center, the county Veterans Service Agency, the VetCenter, and other agencies committed to the mission of serving Veterans. The revitalization of Richards House is a positive reaffirmation of our shared commitment to improving veterans’ lives.”
Congressman Joe Morelle said, “Too often, our courageous veterans do not receive the essential care and support they need when they return to civilian life, including a place to call home. 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. I’m grateful to Governor Hochul, OTDA, and our many partners who have come together to make this important project a reality and I look forward to our continued efforts to uplift veterans and their families, especially in times of crisis.”
Assemblymember Harry Bronson said, “I am proud to join Governor Hochul, Laura Stradley and the veterans who call Richards House home as we announce the much-needed renovations. These funds will provide a safe, supportive place in which veterans experiencing housing insecurities can find shelter, support, and comradery. Addressing veteran homelessness requires the comprehensive, one-stop approach available at Veterans Outreach Center. VOC’s wide range of services – behavioral health, wellness programs, housing, training, employment services, and more – create the critical pathway to get these brave men back on their feet. I want to thank the Governor and the Veteran’s Outreach Center for supporting Rochester and our 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 Veteran’s Outreach Center’s (VOC) Richard’s House will see to it that fewer veterans experience these issues. Thank you to Gov. Kathy Hochul, the VOC, and my partners in government who work tirelessly to ensure veterans get the support they deserve.”
Rochester Mayor Malik D. Evans said, “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 Veteran’s Outreach Center doing just that in Rochester. This expansion of the Richards House further demonstrates our commitment to honor those who have served our country. On behalf of our veterans and the entire community, I’d like to thank Governor Hochul and the Veterans Outreach Center for their commitment to Rochester.”
Veterans Outreach Center Executive Director and U.S. Army Veteran Laura Stradley said, “The renovations to Richards House are critical to giving local veterans the foundation they need to get back on their feet and thrive. 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. Our gratitude goes out to the community, our partners, donors, elected officials and supporters who have made these renovations possible. The support for local veterans is strong, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”
The Homeless Housing Assistance Program provides capital grants and loans to not-for-profit corporations, charitable and religious organizations, and municipalities to acquire, construct, or rehabilitate housing for persons who are unable to secure adequate housing without special assistance. The grants are awarded through a competitive process by the New York State Homeless Housing and Assistance Corporation, a public benefit corporation staffed by OTDA.
Through this program, New York State has appropriated more than $1.2 billion toward the development of supportive housing. In total, the program has created more than 22,000 units of housing to support individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
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