UTICA — With an eye on making a life-changing difference for homeless teen-age boys in the region, Catholic Charities and area officials on Wednesday unveiled its plans for “Grady’s Way.”
The shelter will specialize in helping homeless boys get the help they need to reach their full potential.
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. joined several civic and community action groups to announce the opening of the shelter, which will be located at 1404 Genesee St. The shelter will open in late 2017 after extensive work is done to convert the building’s interior into space for beds, offices and general living quarters.
The building is owned by Catholic Charities Oneida/Madison County, which had been renting it to Care Net Pregnancy Center. The building became available when Care Net relocated.
“They had been renting from us, and now we have a building that may be used to house this shelter,” Catholic Charities Development Director Victoria Paolozzi said. “It will take some time to get it ready because the inside was mostly office space.”
The shelter will be called “Grady’s Way” in honor of the efforts put forth by Grady Faulkner, who works as a parent communication liaison at Donovan Middle School. Faulkner said he has been planning for six years to develop a shelter for Utica’s young homeless men.
“I can’t wait for this to happen,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot working with kids, and their experiences have motivated me to start helping them.”
When completed, the shelter will have 13 beds available for boys aged 12 through 18. It’s an emergency shelter that will house them between 30 and 90 days. During their stay the boys will receive counseling and have their needs of food, shelter and community met. They will also learn job and other skills to transition them to adult life.
“These are for the kids who don’t do drugs and so aren’t prioritized, the ones who slip through the cracks,” Faulkner said. “Evreryone involved in this project wants to see these boys reach their full potential in life.”
Catholic Charities is able to immediately identify 59 boys in that age group in Utica who are considered homeless, although that number may be higher.
“It’s hard to get exact numbers, because many boys don’t consider themselves as homeless,” Paolozzi said. “They go couch-hopping, or move from place to place until they’re kicked out.”
The center could expand its services beyond Utica to Rome and Madison County.
The building will cost $1.2 million to renovate. Catholic Charities is applying for grants through the state Homeless Housing and Assistance Program, the Community Foundation of Oneida and Herkimer Counties and the Gorman Foundation in Oneida.
“We hope construction will begin by January of 2017 and finish by December,” Paolozzi said.