Shelter Safety: How other shelters provide safety after the attack at House of Mercy

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — There are still many questions after Rochester Police said a man used a large sheath knife and attacked two men at the House of Mercy while they were lying in their beds, killing one of them.

“It’s important to know, first of all, how difficult it is to balance providing a space that feels warm and welcoming, but also safe and secure,” Open Door Mission CEO Anna Valeria-Iseman said.

Valeria-Iseman said they are here to support the House of Mercy after the deadly stabbing.

The stabbing left 68-year-old Michael Nairy dead and another injured and many residents are wondering how they can feel safe when going to a shelter.

“All of our doors are locked,” Valeria-Iseman said. “They’re on video cameras and buzzers that feed into our front desk so no one can come in without being physically let in. And we do check bags, so anyone who enters our shelter, their bags are checked.”

According to Coalition for the Homeless, in New York City some of their best practices regarding safety include metal detectors, locker searches, checking for firearms and other weapons and confiscating any contraband.

Valeria-Iseman said there’s a fine line between trying to keep the homeless safe, and strict shelter policies and deterring people from getting help.

“What we really try to look at is we know that some sort of trauma or illness or addiction has led folks to our shelter when they come,” said Valeria-Iseman. “So how we manage that, the best way we can manage that is through de-escalating any sort of behaviors that are kind of a manifestation of those struggles.”