In a call to action for people to help those in need, Rochester’s House of Mercy launched the Radical Compassion campaign in October.
“Radical compassion is reaching out to help those in need, not only when it’s inconvenient but also difficult,” said Sister Grace Miller, the House of Mercy’s founder and CEO.
The campaign features real-life stories of love, mercy and kindness in action, which can be found on House of Mercy’s website, https://houseofmercyrochester.org. Stories highlight community member volunteers and former House of Mercy guests who are now volunteers.
The agency hopes the strategy will inspire individuals to help those in need even when experiencing personal hardships, Sister Miller said. However, she hopes it is Monroe County and the City of Rochester that institute changes that could help Rochester’s destitute and homeless.
“Finding adequate housing in Monroe County is difficult, but finding an apartment that’s both affordable and located in Rochester is rare,” she added.
While Sister Miller said the county has always had a housing problem, it has become worse because of the coronavirus pandemic. Such barriers as difficulty with transportation and filing paperwork and a lack of resources and affordability affect the individuals and families for which the agency provides food, shelter, clothing and access to 24/7 advocacy.
Just one missing or incorrectly filled document can make the difference between someone having access to resources or not, Sister Miller said. For example, she explained if a resident was born in Puerto Rico but has since relocated to Rochester, he or she may not have or be able to easily request a copy of his or her birth certificate. Eliminating restrictions or requiring less documentation could make a difference for a lot of people who need help, she noted.
Another prominent issue is the lack of space for homeless individuals, which Sister Miller attributes to such reasons as a low number of affordable housing units and the competition for them. To solve these issues, she proposes the conversion of one of Rochester’s empty downtown hotels into a hotel dedicated to the homeless.
“It’s been proven, if they (homeless people) have apartments, their lives improve; they dress better and they’re happier,” she said.