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Social Documentary Photojournalist Arleen Hodge shares her experiences and her photographs from Sanctuary Village.

Like an onion there are many layers to the issue of homelessness. Sanctuary Village came about after the homeless who slept in the municipal parking garage were kicked out. The village was not constructed by homeless people, but put together by advocates of the homeless, drawing attention to their lack of housing and I believe used as a tool to raise funds to enable the purchase of another permanent housing structure.

Sanctuary Village
Sanctuary Village
Sanctuary Village
Sanctuary Village

I am torn as many of Rochester’s chronic homeless I call my friends. Many of the population we are talking about have issues of mental illness and addiction making it hard for stability. Permanent housing is not an option without proper treatment. I've seen the revolving door of the “housing first” model. My dear friend, a chronically homeless man of many years, John Klenotiz, was taken off the streets and placed in a “wet house” only to be found dead at the Elk’s Lodge within a year.

Sanctuary Village

His close friend, David Wolf, another chronically homeless man was kicked out of there several times, and lives between temporary housing and on the streets.

Sanctuary Village

I am afraid he will not make it through the winter, the thought of another photo being used in an obituary is gut-wrenching.

Sanctuary Village

Not all homeless people are dealing with these issues, however with those that are, placement will always be an issue without proper treatment. Housing such as the VOA (Volunteers of America) and homeless shelters that offer structure help those that fall into this category to get on the right path.

Sanctuary Village

There is no easy solution, the City of Rochester has offered temporary placement in hotels and shelters, although not permanent, it is a short-term solution to get those residing in the tents into a warm bed this winter until proper housing can be found on a case-by-case basis. The reality is that some will benefit while others will choose the streets.

A word from a Sanctuary Village resident:

"My name is Vanessa, I lived at Sanctuary Village since before it was called Sanctuary Village. In October 2014 we moved over to the trail by Time Warner. The city gave everyone till the 28 of December and one day we drove by and all our stuff is gone. Our blankets, coats, shoes, bed, EVERYTHING we ever owned was in that tent. We weren't there to defend our stuff so it's garbage. Don't we have rights too?? Now we are homeless and have no stuff for the holidays.
Thanks Rochester City Council
Vanessa"

To donate sorely needed socks, gloves, hats, and hand warmers, order direct from this Amazon wish list [http://amzn.com/w/1YTPEUA24ZE03]. Shipments will go directly to Sister Grace Miller at the House of Mercy to be distributed to the homeless at Sanctuary Village.

To contribute to the search for a new home for the residents of Sanctuary Village, visit this fundraising campaign: A Home for Sanctuary Village.