Since city workers bulldozed Sanctuary Village under the Frederick Douglass Susan B. Anthony Memorial Bridge in Rochester in December, the tent city has been a hot topic for discussion. Now, the homeless village has finally been moved into a shelter — temporarily.
In January, property management and development firm Buckingham Properties offered a vacant building off Canal Street for a temporary shelter for the residents of Sanctuary Village, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. The shelter opened last week.
Preparation of the building took a couple of weeks, as there were safety and liability concerns. These were all sorted out by Buckingham and volunteers from the House of Mercy. Co-founder of the House of Mercy, Sister Grace Miller, says that the DiMarco companies provided a heater for the space, and that fire alarms, a second exit, and a sprinkler system were installed.
“I think they’re doing a great job,” Sanctuary Village resident Joe Daddazio told the Democrat and Chronicle. “It’s going to work out if we all work together.”
Though the shelter is open 24/7, unlike other shelters in the city, this is only a temporary fix for a very real problem. A permanent shelter would help, but it does take a lot of resources to provide spaces like the one on Canal Street. The use of the space was made possible by around $80,000 in donations in addition to the generosity of Buckingham, reports TWC News.
Sanctuary Village runs exclusively from donations, so purchasing and maintaining a permanent space is a challenge. There are things that could be done to outfit an existing space to operate on a lower budget; for example, spray foam insulation has the potential to reduce heating costs — which rise significantly during cold Rochester winters — by up to 50%.
The good news is that Sanctuary Village will be housed in the Canal Street location until April — by which time the frigid temperatures will have subsided.