(November 29, 2022) – Everyone deserves a safe place to live. Citizen Action of New York and VOCAL-NY condemn the targeted harassment of unhoused residents of Rochester–including the sweeps of homeless encampments on Loomis Street–by the city government. Together with local advocates, we call upon Mayor Malik Evans and City Council to stop the continued attacks on our unhoused population and work with the community to find sustainable solutions that don’t continue the cycle of harm.
No one should be harassed and made to feel unsafe in their own space. Unhoused people do not have any form of protection against sudden and violent eviction and the seizure of their property. Forced ‘sweeps’ of encampments threaten their survival and put people at unnecessary risk, without reducing homelessness or addressing the problems that cause it.
The use of Rochester’s police force to harass and criminalize unhoused residents and the people attempting to support them, is unconscionable. This is a misuse of city resources and it creates severe and unnecessary collateral consequences. Unhoused residents are being scapegoated for deeper problems that police are unable to address.
City shelters are an important lifeline for many people experiencing homelessness, but these shelters are not a suitable place for every unhoused person. Many shelters are filled with violence that puts residents at risk and some have requirements–like abandoning pets–that people cannot comply with. Furthermore, there is a shortage of available beds in the currently available shelters.
Rochester is the fourth poorest city in the United States and many residents are struggling to make rent. A severe lack of low-cost housing and legal protections for tenants in existing housing causes many people to be homeless or housing insecure.
The City of Rochester has shown once again that property matters more than people. Citizen Action and VOCAL-NY are united in solidarity with unhoused residents and advocates, as we call upon Mayor Malik Evans and Rochester City Council to put an end to the sweeps and work with the community to find sustainable solutions that don’t continue the cycle of harm. Housing is a human right, and unhoused people have a right to be safe and keep the property they have to shelter themselves.