First Home in Utica’s “Small House” Initiative Completed, Handed Over to New Owner

December 30, 2020

UTICA, N.Y. – The Rescue Mission of Utica cut a ribbon in front of the first house finished through the Skills for Success Program, which allows students learning a trade to help build homes for local low-income families.

This ‘small house’ initiative brings Mohawk Valley Community College students learning carpentry, masonry and other trades together to construct the homes, all located on Noyes Street in Utica.

The keys to the first new home were handed over to owner, John Smythe, on Dec. 30.

“It’s a blessing. It’s a gift from God. I never thought I would have a house,” he said. “I’m amazed, I’m happy, I’m blessed.”

Through the program, the new owners receive the homes mortgage-free.

“This individual that’s receiving this house today is able to be gifted it. Just has to pay the taxes, pay the bills, but doesn’t have a mortgage so it’s such a win-win for everybody,” said Ernie Talerico, director of operations at the Mission. “And this lot…was vacant, so now we’re building on vacant lots, and also it’s adding to the tax rolls.”

The initiative is a partnership between the Rescue Mission, the city of Utica, Mohawk Valley Community College, and the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties.



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