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Trillium Health receives $20 million grant to help stem chronic homelessness

A rendering of Union Square, a $19.3 million mixed-use development headed by Trillium Health.
A rendering of Union Square, a $19.3 million mixed-use development headed by Trillium Health.

Trillium Health Inc. has received the largest grant in its history, enabling the organization to construct a $19.3 million mixed-use development.

The state’s Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI) grant totals $20 million over 40 years, with $500,000 distributed annually in five-year increments. The funds will support a housing program at Union Square on Site 3 of the former Inner Loop that will serve individuals who are chronically homeless and 55 or older, as well as chronically homeless individuals living with HIV.

Trillium Health is partnering with Home Leasing LLC, the City of Rochester, Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc. and the Out Alliance on the initiative. The project has been in the works since 2017 and is expected to break ground next year. Occupancy is expected to begin in early 2020, with full occupancy by June 2020.

“We are incredibly grateful to Gov. Cuomo for this investment in improving the lives of our most vulnerable community members,” Trillium Health President and CEO Andrea DeMeo said in a statement. “Together with Home Leasing, the City of Rochester, Lifespan and the Out Alliance, we will help individuals who suffer from chronic homelessness and work to make a positive and enduring impact on our community.”

The ESSHI grant funding will support rent subsidies and the delivery of supportive services to program participants who will reside in 20 apartments at the site. Trillium officials said that by providing holistic support, chronically homeless people are better able to lead healthier lives independently, increase vocational skills and get jobs, which equates to lower health care and social support costs overall, as well as a lower likelihood of repeated homelessness.

“At Trillium Health, we believe that housing is health care, and I applaud Gov. Cuomo’s office and the City of Rochester for recognizing the need for additional stable housing in our community,” DeMeo said.

Trillium plans to provide individualized services and linkages to care and community resources to the residents, and support and services also will be provided by community-based organizations including Lifespan and the Out Alliance. A Trillium Health spokeswoman said some 50 families are expected to be helped throughout the course of the grant.

“As a community champion for LGBTQ+ quality of life and access to much-needed services, we are encouraged that this resource is being made available to our community,” Out Alliance Executive Director Jeff Myers said. “It is collaborations like these that are so powerful in the fight to empower and address the needs of not only the Rochester community but the Rochester queer community.”

The ESSHI funding depends on the successful development of the mixed-use housing project by Home Leasing. Home Leasing plans to build the LGBTQ-welcoming, mixed-use development with 66 one- and two-bedroom affordable apartments, a pharmaceutical health emporium operated by Trillium Health and additional space for commercial use.

Twenty apartments will be set aside for Trillium’s supportive housing programs for chronically homeless individuals from the community. Tompkins Realty also serves as a partner in the Union Square development.

“We build communities that improve the lives of our residents,” Home Leasing’s Chairman and CEO Nelson Leenhouts said. “We’re thrilled to partner with Trillium Health in the development of apartments that will become home to individuals who have experienced homelessness and offer support to their health and wellbeing.”

Trillium Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike community health center, which means the agency provides primary care services in underserved areas, care on a sliding fee scale based on ability to pay and operates under a governing board that includes patients. An FQHC-Look-Alike meets all of the eligibility requirements of an organization that receives a Public Health Service Section 330 grant, but does not receive grant funding.

“Trillium Health and Home Leasing are among our community’s most treasured resources, and it’s gratifying to see them form a partnership to bring supportive housing to the Inner Loop East Revitalization Project,” Mayor Lovely Warren said. “The award of this grant is a testament to their great work and will allow them to provide much-needed care and assistance to people dealing with challenging circumstances, especially those relating to housing and health care.

“Their innovative solutions to break the cycle of chronic homelessness in our city are invaluable in our efforts to create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities,” Warren said.

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