Here is another in our series about things going on around Rochester.
Rochester’s homeless population will soon have temporary shelter in an abandoned Canal Street warehouse as part of a possible agreement between Buckingham Properties, city officials and homeless advocates.
According to a January 7 Democrat and Chronicle article, homeless people living in a tent encampment under the Douglass-Anthony bridge would be able to spend the rest of the winter in the warehouse, located behind the building that once housed Volunteers of America.
Discussions to finalize these plans are still taking place, and several things must be done before anyone can move into the building. Buckingham Properties is currently working on performing minor repairs and renovations to make sure the warehouse meets fire code standards.
The city’s homeless advocates will also need to get liability insurance and bring in portable toilets before the homeless can be brought out of the cold. These advocates, who raised more than $80,000 in donations to help make the warehouse shelter a reality, will also help monitor the building around the clock and enforce security, the Democrat and Chronicle reports.
However, perhaps most pressing is the need to ensure that there are no leftover hazards present from when the warehouse was still active. Most warehouses utilize forklifts that run on rechargeable lead-acid and nickel-iron batteries, which both contain highly corrosive chemicals and heavy metals that can pose threats to human health, even years after leaking or spilling from a battery. Cleaning up these substances before anyone moves into the building will be crucial.
While the Canal Street warehouse will offer a welcome respite from the Rochester winter, it’s important to remember that this will be nothing more than a temporary fix for the city’s homeless population. Homeless advocates are still seeking a solution that would provide a permanent shelter to long-term homeless in the city.
But for now, there is relief in the fact that the warehouse will likely open its doors in as little as a week for those who need to take refuge from the cold.