It’s been exactly one year since staff at the House of Mercy packed their things and moved into a new facility just outside of downtown.
The new house, located on Ormond Street, features more space to house residents, laundry, a backyard patio space and more space for food and meals. It also has case management and support and housing assistance services right on site. Overall, there are 82 semi-private beds, increasing how many people the shelter can help.
But Sister Grace Miller, who founded House of Mercy, says it’s not just for the area’s homeless. Everyone in need is welcome.
“We’re not just a homeless shelter, we’re also a community center,” she said. “People from the community come in and our neighbors who are hungry come and we feed them also. We’re open to all of our poor and anyone in need and that is 24/7.”
She hopes the Center will be the start of a larger solution to address local need, saying "Our new home here on Ormond Street has allowed us to grow our mission and this is just the beginning of paving the way to a wider solution to Rochester's poverty crisis."
Miller raised much of the money and also relied on city and state support. The City of Rochester gave $500,000 but not without some work. Mayor Lovely Warren attended the ribbon-cutting and says at first she said they couldn’t help; the city can’t financially back social issues but Miller wouldn’t take no for an answer. Instead she worked with other officials, like Assemblyman David Gantt and then went back to Warren.
Warren says she was happy to finally be able to support the project; housing mattered to her grandfather, Cecil McClary. She says that he said he would provide housing to people that sometimes don’t have anywhere else to go and because it was “our obligation and duty.”
“I never forgot about that discussion I had with my grandfather Cecil McClary,” Warren said.
Miller says they’ll use the space to help people find reliable housing, work through traumas and experiences that may have led to their trauma and overall “be merciful.” She said she's excited about the potential to make change locally.