No matter what we look like or where we come from, we all deserve the dignity of a home and safety in our community. On Sunday, Sept. 19, I attended a forum hosted by the Muslim Coalition of ISAIAH with our new City Council President Brooke Carlson, to participate in a discussion about housing and public safety. It was a powerful glimpse of what strong partnership with local leaders can look like.

I was inspired by the dialogue, but I was bothered by one statement that I had never previously questioned: “There will always be homeless people.” While I can understand where that comes from, is it time to question that vein of thinking? Why will there always be homeless people? Is it because solutions have been limited to what the free-market, profit-based system will allow?

Lifting those parameters would spur creative solutions. As people of faith – Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Humanist – alternative solutions would expand, not only to include public housing and rent control, but perhaps programs that re-skill the unhoused community at the same time they provide viable housing solutions.

It is not too late to adjust the Med City vision. Instead of a divided community, Rochester has the potential to be the model of a cooperative, communal, resilient, resourceful city, with all its citizens prepared to weather the challenges ahead with pride and dignity.

I want to thank Council President Carlson for attending and sharing her perspectives, and I look forward to our community partnering with her to make a new vision a reality.

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Darlene Coffman, Rochester