How to help Monroe County’s homeless as cold temps, winter weather arrive


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The plunging temperatures are downright dangerous for the thousands of people in our area who are without a home. Local shelters are struggling to accommodate them because of recent budget cuts.

Horton Williams is one of the 2,000 people in Monroe County without a home.

“I have been living in my car now for the last 11 months,” said Williams. “I am trying to find another place to live and the rents are so high. I am on all these lists with all these agencies. I am on section 8 too. Nothing yet “

When temperatures drop the fight for survival becomes harder. It’s taking almost everything Williams has just to stay warm.

“I got ten dollars left to my name,” said Williams. “It’s costing me a ton of money to keep the car running.”

This is when shelters like the YMCA and the Open Door Mission start to see a spike in people.

“The shelters become very crowded, said Phyllis McElligott, Housing and Facility Director of the YMCA. “Sometimes we have had to double up on rooms where people don’t know each other.”

“We’ve actually been sleeping fifty and up to the sixty people, which is already over our capacity,” said Anna Valeria-Iseman, Executive Director Open Door Mission.

Budget cuts has made it difficult for the homeless service providers to make ends meet.

“We’re looking for assistance throughout the community to help us with some gap funding,” said McElligott.

Along with money donating clothing and other essentials go a long way.

“Hygiene products, blankets, twin sheets those are all costs the shelter wouldn’t have to put forth, ” said McElligott.

“Their clothes maybe wet and cold and dirty and they just need something new to put on when they leave,” said Valeria-Iseman.

The donations help shelters help people like Williams when the future is unclear.

“At this point of the ballgame I don’t know where I am going to go,” said Williams. “I really don’t.”

Both organizations say no matter what they will help anyone who comes through their doors.

New York state does enact a “code blue” when temperatures dip below 32 degrees or the wind chill reaches zero. That’s meant to increase access to homeless services overnight during the winter months.

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