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Homelessness agency changes name to better emphasize mission

Homelessness agency changes name to better emphasize mission

A decision to bring more attention to Rochester’s homelessness has led to an organizational rebranding for one area nonprofit.

Connie Sanderson
Connie Sanderson

Rochester-Monroe County Homeless Continuum of Care has changed its name to Partners Ending Homelessness. The name change and new logo were revealed Wednesday at a gathering of more than 100 supporters.

The Continuum, often referred to as the acronym CoC, is the local agency that handles the primary planning and coordinating of homeless housing and services, said agency executive director Connie Sanderson ahead of the event.

“We manage the allocation and the oversight of more than $12 million in HUD funding,” Sanderson explained. “We monitor those programs on an annual basis to ensure they’re operating at capacity, using the funds appropriately.”

The vast majority of Partners Ending Homelessness’ programs provide rental assistance in the community, Sanderson added, so roughly 85 percent of the funding goes directly to community-based landlords that are providing housing for people in the community.

The organization, which was founded in 2013 but became an independent not-for-profit last year, is responsible for maintaining the Homeless Management Information System database, as well as for a rather new model called Coordinated Entry, which helps prioritize people that have the highest needs to ensure they have access to the most appropriate programs enabling them to stay stable in housing, Sanderson said.

CoC worked with Causewave Community Partners on its rebranding strategy. Formerly known as the Ad Council of Rochester, Causewave is an agency that helps nonprofits with community impact work, marketing plans and leadership training, among other things.

Sanderson said the name change from a cumbersome moniker was critical to ensuring the community knows and understands what the small agency does. With seven staffers, Partners Ending Homelessness works with roughly 15 organizations and 47 programs. Its major stakeholders are the more than 60 private-sector, public-sector and faith-based organizations that comprise the Homeless Services Network.

“Sometimes the issue of homelessness is hidden in this community. It’s not like some of the more major cities in the country that have really obvious street homeless populations,” Sanderson said of the need for Partners Ending Homelessness’ services. “On any given day there are 849 people in this community who are literally homeless, and that doesn’t count the hundreds of people who are precariously housed, people who are doubling up with others, staying with a family member or a friend.”

Annually, more than 6,100 people are homeless in Monroe County. It is a number that is stable; it hasn’t grown tremendously in the last several years, but it hasn’t improved either, she said.

“I think the lack of affordable housing in the community drives that number even higher of people that are on the ‘cliff,’” Sanderson explained. “It’s one car repair, one illness that will cause them to become literally homeless.”

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