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Home > Programs & Services > Shelter Renovation Project

RESCUE MISSION ADDRESS CRITICAL HOMELESS NEED

 

The Rescue Mission of Utica held a Golden Hammer Event on Monday, March 29, 2010 to officially kick off a renovation project that would meet a critical homeless need and preserve an historic structure at the same time -- at the Parker House facility at 203 Rutger Street.

The Rescue Mission has occupied Parker House for 39 years – since 1971. The Rescue Mission has been providing a vital service to the City of Utica and the Mohawk Valley at the Rutger Street location right from the start – providing emergency shelter for the homeless and helping those addicted to alcohol or drugs come to grips with their problems.

Over the past six years the Rescue Mission has been seeing a growing homeless problem in the city, and has been there to get homeless men off the streets. The shelter capacity has been strained to overflowing most of the time. In fact, since December, we have been at or above capacity 100 percent of the time. For example, to avoid seeing the homeless succumb to winter weather, the shelter put guests in an overflow area for 30 of the 31 days in December, 26 of the 31 days in January, and 27 of the 28 days in February, and so far in March, we have been over-capacity almost every night with up to 26 men.  If the shelter renovations were completed today, the shelter would already be nearly full.

Thus, the need to address homelessness has reached a critical level in Utica.

The Parker House Renovation Project addresses that critical need. It is made possible with donor funds and in particular a $700,000 homeless assistance grant announced last year by Congressman Michael Arcuri.  The Rescue Mission of Utica believes in accountability and to that end is a member of a national Rescue Mission association, has annual financial audits, and the shelter is inspected each year by the NY State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

Through reconfiguring the interior space, the homeless capacity will increase from 18 to 30 beds. The project will provide needed improvements to kitchen and bathroom facilities, increase handicapped accessibility, and make the building more energy efficient. Project amenities include a small residential kitchen and dining area, multipurpose room, personal study areas, classrooms, storage space, clothing room, laundry room and counseling offices. With the project site being a Victorian structure built circa 1890, the project furthers ongoing renewal efforts in the historic neighborhood through maintenance, interior renovation, and energy efficiency.

 Over the last 118 years, the Rescue Mission has grown in its ability to offer residency-based programs aimed at overcoming homelessness, breaking the cycle of drug and alcohol dependency, teaching life skills, and providing supportive services and aftercare so that residents can learn vocational skills and obtain long-term independence. Furthermore, the Rescue Mission has become a cornerstone to the historic Rutger Street neighborhood in beautification, preservation, and human services. With tears streaming down his face he mumbled, “I had lived there for three years.  I didn’t know where to go or what to do.  I wanted to go live with my mother, but she is 78 and in a nursing home.  I didn’t want to be homeless.  Someone told me about the Rescue Mission and that they would help me.  I am so thankful that the Mission is letting me stay here until I find another apartment.  Everyone is so kind and helpful and I feel safe.  All I can say is, God bless the Rescue Mission!”

Click here to view pictures of our "Golden Hammer" event.

In the current economic climate in our nation and our area, the need for the Rescue Mission’s outreach is greater than ever.  An example of one of your neighbors staying in our shelter is Joe.  Joe is a diabetic, and we asked him what brought him to the shelter.  He said, “My landlord told me that he was raising my rent from $400 to $700 a month!  I am on social security disability and I can’t afford $700 in rent.   That would leave me with no money for my medications, heat and lights, cable and food.  He left me no choice but to move out."

The Parker House facility houses both the homeless shelter and a residential aftercare program. The homeless are allowed to stay for as long as they work on resolving issues that led to their homelessness (such as addictions, joblessness, etc.).   And the shelter staff is successful in helping people find places to live.  Since December, we have been able to help over 70% of those seeking shelter here to find permanent or temporary housing within 30 days.

 The 15-bed aftercare program is an addiction recovery program lasting six to nine months.

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