Groundbreaking for a transitional housing facility for women and children is expected to take place next month.
The Open Door Mission has just been approved for a $650,000 affordable home loan to renovate the former convent on Coldwater Road in Gates. It's expected to open in July or August, 2018.
It will be the first time in the mission's 65 year history that it will provide shelter for women and children. The organization is responding to a poverty crisis affecting single mothers and their families. In the current academic year, more than 2,000 students in the Rochester City School District did not have a permanent address.
"Students with single parent households are not attending school; they're chronically absent,” said Anna Valeria-Iseman, executive director of the Open Door Mission. “They're not reading at their appropriate grade level and they really need that transitional housing support."
The problem is not limited to the Rochester school district, according to Valeria-Iseman. It “flies under the radar” in suburban districts, she said, because families are not as open about their personal struggles.
The Open Door Mission believes a transitional housing model with support services and case workers is the best option to help this vulnerable population.
“The problem with emergency housing is there is no time to focus on the things they need to, because as soon as they're in, they need to get out,” Valeria-Iseman said. “The problem with permanent housing is that just being placed into housing doesn't necessarily address the causes that put them into crisis in the first place, so oftentimes, the permanent housing is lost and the recidivism rate is higher."
The affordable home loan came from a privately-funded, national program based in Pittsburgh. The loan will transition to a grant after 15 years of interest payments from Open Door Mission, as long as the facility is still operating as a homeless shelter.
The Open Door Mission is in the midst of a $1.5 million fundraising campaign with a goal of raising enough money to cover the first two years of operating expenses for the women and children's residence.
The families who stay there will receive support services for a year after they move into permanent housing.