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House of Mercy reopens Tuesday; will start with smaller bed capacity and new protocols

The House of Mercy on Ormond Street in Rochester.
House of Mercy
The House of Mercy on Ormond Street in Rochester.

The House of Mercy homeless shelter is reopening Tuesday after having been closed since a fatal stabbing happened there in early August.

They will be reopening with increased security and a 40-bed capacity. That is about half of the original 76-bed capacity.

Ed Hourihan, chairman of the board at House of Mercy, told WXXI News that officials at the shelter decided they should open with fewer beds, especially as they are working to make sure they have adequate staff.

“There’s certainly a need as we're seeing, in the news as of late, with different encampments that are popping up,” Hourihan said. “There's a significant need for more than just the 40 beds that we’re initially going to start with. I think you'll see the House of Mercy moving upwards towards its full capacity as time passes, probably in the next couple of months.”

Hourihan said there are other organizations, including the Open Door Mission, a homeless and housing advocacy organization called REACH, and city, state and county agencies that will help find temporary emergency housing for people.

“All of these agencies talk to one another to try to find placements for emergency shelters,” Hourihan explained.

Hourihan said House of Mercy continues to appeal to the public for help in getting the resources they need to run the operation, since they are a private, nonprofit shelter that primarily relies on donor donations.

All of the changes were spurred by the Aug. 7 slaying of 68-year-old Michael Nairy. He was living at the shelter as was his alleged attacker, 40-year-old Nathaniel Jeanpierre III.

Another shelter resident suffered serious but non-life-threatening wounds.

Jeanpierre was charged with second-degree murder and second-degree attempted murder.

Hourihan said House of Mercy will be a secure facility, and he said they have been working with state agencies.

House of Mercy officials in September announced a plan for leadership restructuring. That included the announcement that founder and spiritual director Sister Grace Miller and guest services coordinator Sister Rita Lewis will no longer be part of the organization.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.