Clock runs out for Sanctuary Village
David Riley, Staff writer
After a month living at Sanctuary Village, Grant Grice wheeled his suitcase out the front door on Wednesday, unlikely to return.
The temporary homeless shelter inside a warehouse on Canal Street was set to shut down Wednesday night after the expiration of an agreement among shelter operator House of Mercy, city officials and building owner Buckingham Properties.
Sister Grace Miller, co-founder of House of Mercy, said county workers placed most people who had been staying at the warehouse in other shelters or apartments in advance of the closing. Only six or seven individuals like Grice remained, Miller said as shelter workers and volunteers stacked mattresses and packed up blankets and people’s belongings.
Grice, 49, said he lived in the warehouse for about a month after he and a roommate were evicted from their apartment. His roommate since landed an apartment, he said. Grice hoped to find a room at the Hotel Cadillac on Chestnut Street.
Miller still was hoping for a last-minute reprieve to stay in the warehouse, saying she knew some people who stayed there would end up back on the streets before long. She would rather the place remain open until she can find a building to permanently house a new shelter for the city’s most difficult-to-serve homeless population.
“My heart’s been heavy ever since we were told we have to be out of here,” she said.
But the shelter, which had no running water, always was supposed to close April 15. Some 70 people stayed there during the coldest months of winter.
City spokesman James Smith said the shelter had been an example of Rochester’s compassion, but it was a temporary solution. The city is now working with everyone involved to find a more permanent arrangement, he said.
“The April 15 date was one everyone agreed on from the beginning, and we’re sticking with it,” he said.
Buckingham had offered the building up to a fledgling community of homeless people who could or would not go to other shelters and had been camping in tents under the Douglass-Anthony Bridge.
The Rochester/Monroe County Homeless Service Network released a statement that said agencies that work with the homeless have been collaborating with Sanctuary Village staff to prepare for the closing.
“We have offered additional beds, hospitality placements for those individuals who do not have active cases with the Department of Human Services, and assistance with support services and housing referrals,” the statement said. “It is our hope that the residents of Sanctuary Village will continue to accept these resources as they move beyond their current situation.”
One of those residents, Joey Daddazio, had stayed in the warehouse since late January. He said he planned to go now to the Francis Center, which is run by Catholic Family Center.
But until now, Sanctuary Village met a need for some people, he said.
“Without them, I’d be in the streets,” he said. “When no one else helped me, they were here.”
Miller said she is looking into a possible shelter building just outside downtown, but nothing is set in stone yet.
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