Sister Grace Miller says COVID-19 forced the House of Mercy’s doors shut. That’s a rarity in the homeless shelter’s three decades of operation.
“For the first time I feel like my hands are tied,” said Miller. “You know, I can’t go in the direction I want to go because there are rules and regulations regarding the pandemic.”
The facility is slowly reopening after a spate of COVID-19 infections for volunteers, staff and residents at the end of last year. Eight people moved back in last week, in a facility that has 82 beds.
“It was very difficult when one after another, after another caught the virus,” Miller said.
Miller hopes to phase in more people over time and reach full capacity when it's safe to do so.
“We would love it if it ended tomorrow,” said Miller. “It's so devastating.”
But she remains busy as ever, and says she’s staying in contact with residents, helping them find new places to stay. She said some are staying at hotels while others have other arrangements.
Miller says they’re working with Monroe County to get as many members of this population access to COVID-19 vaccines as possible. Five people received it Thursday night.
“We’re still with our people, even if some of them are at a distance,” said Miller. “We haven’t forgotten them and they haven’t forgotten us.”