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Gates Moves Ahead With Mission Plan For Women & Children's Housing

The Gates Town Board this week approved a conditional use permit for the Open Door Mission to open a transitional housing facility at the former Holy Ghost Rectory on Coldwater Road. A similar proposal met with opposition in the City of Rochester last fall.

The facility is geared toward women and children who don’t have a permanent home. The executive director for the mission, Mike Hennessy, says the idea is to help these families get back on their feet so they can eventually be self-sustaining.

“Get these moms, guardians or grandmas and kids into a supportive housing program, get the kids back in school, get the moms the training that they need whether it’s a financial class or job training or skilled training or parenting, cooking skills, and get them into independent living again.”

Hennessy, says one of the problems that leads to poor performance by some Rochester students involves kids who don't have a permanent place to live. 

“I think if you’ve got 42 percent of the kids in the district, K through 3 who are chronically absent from school, something has to be done to change that because if nobody has an impact on these families then, we’re going to long for the good old days when we had a 44 percent graduation rate in the city because these kids are going to struggle to get out of elementary school,” Hennessy told WXXI News.

Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini says area residents have been supportive of this concept. 

“The neighbors are welcoming, they’re actually excited about this, the community, including the school district and the town board and our other community groups are just excited about helping this needy population,” Assini said.

The Open Door Mission is still working to raise money to get the facility up and running. They hope to have it open by the 2017-18 school year.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.