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Open Door Mission plans affordable, supportive housing complex on West Main Street

Anna Valeria-Iseman

Open Door Mission is embarking on a new venture.

The nearly 70-year-old organization, which provides emergency shelter and services for homeless individuals, is planning to offer individual, supportive adult housing units in about a year.

"We have some units designated for victims of domestic violence, some for youth aging out of foster care, and some for chronically homeless as well as some for folks who are dealing with substance abuse disorder," said executive director Anna Valeria-Iseman.

Eleven one-bedroom and 13 studio apartments will be in the Miller Building at 226-234 W. Main St., which the Open Door Mission already owns and has been using for storage.

It's adjacent to the Samaritan House emergency shelter.

Open Door Mission this week secured a $6.5 million grant from the New York state Homeless Housing and Assistance Program to renovate the property.

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Valeria-Iseman said there will be no time limit on how long someone can rent the fair market rate units, but there is the hope that some residents will move on from there.

"We don't want this to be kind of the end game," she explained. "We want people to be able to have access to housing so they can become stabilized and ultimately then be able to move on into completely independent housing."

Residents of the new property will have access to on-site, around-the-clock support services.

Construction is expected to begin in the fall with an opening planned for late next winter or early spring of 2022.

The future use of the Miller Building is something Open Door Mission had long pondered.  Some consideration was given to selling the property, according to Valeria-Iseman, but circumstances in recent years pointed to the need for more affordable housing.

The city's Civic Center Garage was shut off to homeless individuals in 2014. The Cadillac Hotel closed in 2018, and that same year, Spectrum built a fence to block access to a homeless encampment on its property off South Avenue.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.