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People working on housing insecurity in Rochester are getting support from a national network

A skyline view of Rochester
Max Schulte
Downtown Rochester skyline view.

Rochester is one of nine U.S. cities selected to participate in the Housing Solutions Lab’s Peer Cities Network's second cohort.

Based out of New York University’s Furman Center, the network provides mid-size cities with resources to address housing issues.

City officials and housing leaders of participating cities meet monthly to discuss challenges, share ideas and are supported with resources through the lab.

Martha Galvez, executive director of the Housing Solutions Lab, said it provides data and examples of what other cities are doing. She said it’s an opportunity for cities to learn from one another.

"They can build a network so that they can share successes and challenges and move their housing plans forward,” Galvez said.

The Housing Solutions Lab started in 2020 to help 10 cities develop emergency rental assistance programs.

Galvez said this time around, they were looking for cities that bring together coalitions of different stakeholders in their communities. She said Rochester was a good fit because the city had already done some groundwork on its own.

“Rochester brought together a really good coalition of folks," Galvez said. “And it's clear that there's already some momentum happening in Rochester, both on kind of the nonprofit and service provider side and from the city itself.”

The city anticipates the findings will complement the upcoming recommendations of its Housing Quality Task Force.

According to a statement released by the city of Rochester, the Peer Cities Network will help Rochester draft a comprehensive housing plan.

Mayor Malik Evans released a statement saying that lessons learned from participating in the Peer Cities Network will bring “much-needed focus” to Rochester’s housing strategies and improve collaboration among partners in the housing community.

Evans said that a comprehensive and permanent community-wide housing plan will become the city’s “blueprint to housing stability” and help create “a safe, growing and prosperous Rochester for everyone.”

Other cities included in the cohort are: Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Des Moines, Iowa; Evanston, Illinois; Missoula, Montana; Pasco, Washington; Pawtucket/Central Falls, Rhode Island; Portland, Maine; and San Marcos, Texas.

The housing networking program will run through the end of the year.

April Franklin is the local host of WXXI's Weekend Edition and a reporter covering housing and neighborhood issues.