Dozens of homeless and homeless advocates rallied outside the Monroe County Office Building.
They say their cause is urgent.
Right now, people on welfare who have no place to live risk temporarily losing their benefits for even the most minor of infractions such as failing to fill out the right form. That means homeless shelter are forced to turn them away.
“It’s provoking them to be homeless. Putting them in situations they shouldn’t be at 12 o’clock” said Patrick Braswell of the Rochester Homeless Union.
Sister Grace Miller runs the House of Mercy.
“The sanctions keep homeless people from being put in shelters and it prevents them from being able to get on their feet” said Sister Grace Miller.
The group wants Monroe County to stop policies that prevent people from using homeless shelter but county officials say they’re simply enforcing state rules.
In a statement, the county says: “With all due respect, today’s protest is a waste of time… If these folks were serious, they would march to the offices of any number of state or federal representatives in our region.”
Sister Grace Miller has heard this before.
“Some of the county legislators have said there’s nothing they can do about it but we know they have more lee-way from the state than they are using” said Sister Grace Miller.
Legislator Vince Felder (D) is open to the discussion.
“The county should be able to find a way to be more creative in dealing with these situations so we aren’t creating more homeless people” said Vince Felder.