Tenant rally held at former Cadillac Hotel in Rochester Friday

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — It’s a movement that has picked up momentum all throughout the pandemic, a fight to turn empty buildings into affordable housing. Today, advocates in Rochester gathered outside former Cadillac Hotel claiming what they call an opportunity for our homeless.

The Cadillac Hotel has a long history. It used to house many homeless people in Rochester – until it closed, displacing them. Sister Grace with House of Mercy says year after year, they return to protest, in hopes of claiming it back.

“This Cadillac belongs to the people, the poor, and we want it back for the poor,” Sister Grace with House of Mercy said. “There are many empty hotels in the city of Rochester if New York City can put homeless in their empty hotels Rochester can do the same.”

A lot of this is taking wind after the pandemic began. More people working from home, and that means more office spaces shutting down. Rallyists say in New York City hotel revenues are down 80%, and office vacancies have reached record highs.

Graham Hughes with Rochester Housing Alliance says at the same time: luxury developments are going up locally. In the past year, median home prices increased 10 percent, and median rent up 8 percent.

“Rochester housing doesn’t provide housing for most of our people, nd consider housing as a necessary human right,” Hughes said.

That’s where HONDA comes in, it stands for “Housing Our Neighbors with Dignity Act;” a bill advocates want to pass with hopes to convert empty building into housing for low income individuals. It currently only stands for New York City, but advocates want to expand it statewide.

HONDA was voted out of the Housing Committee last week.

In the meantime, rallyists in Rochester are starting with the county and surrounding community to make their voices heard.

The bill has support from local lawmakers including local assemblymen Harry Bronson and Demond Meeks.

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