ROCHESTER, NY (WROC-TV) A report from earlier this year says on any given night, about 835 people in Rochester are without a home. 

“It’s unfair to assume what a homeless person looks like”, says Rochester City school board president Van White. He adds nine percent of the student population is homeless. That number has increased by 46 percent the past decade. 

“If a child doesn’t have a place to lay his head and get three square meals, it can represent challenges for our teachers and principals and it really does take an entire community to address those problems,” says White.

White says the school district has case management services that provide social help, things like washing machines for homeless students, as well as significant help from the public.

It was a school counselor who led Jodie Jaquim and her kids to the Open Door Mission.

“It’s so amazing. We’re blessed to be here,” says Jaquim.

Jaquim found herself homeless as a result of domestic violence. She says the shelter on Coldwater Road is a home for now, allowing her family to function and thrive in Rochester. 

“Stay strong and reach out because there are programs and places that will help,” she says.

Another organization that gives homeless a platform to build from, is the House of Mercy

“I started out because I would find homeless people out on the streets and I would take them to homeless shelters and the shelters refused them. And that blew my mind. So then I thought there needs to be a place that will take in all homeless day or night,” says Sister Grace Miller who helped establish the House of Mercy.

Sister Grace Miller says the House of Mercy is more than a shelter. It’s a refuge for the city’s most vulnerable.
“Whatever it is that they need, that’s what we involve ourselves in,” says Miller.

From helping people learn to read, to navigating the legal system, to providing a hot shower and a step up, the House of Mercy aims to set those in need up for success. But they can’t do it alone. 

“Whatever help we can get from the community will help us,” says Miller.

It’s something Van White echoed. “Everybody’s contributions and resources are needed to address the challenges communities like this face,” he says.