January 21, 2020

State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Announces Completion of $2.3 Million Youth Shelter in Oneida County

‘Grady’s Way’ Offers Emergency Shelter and Permanent Supportive Housing for Adolescents

State’s Homeless Housing and Assistance Program Funds Building Renovation

The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) today announced the completion of Grady’s Way, a $2.3 million emergency shelter and permanent housing for homeless youth and young adults. Funded through the state’s Homeless Housing and Assistance Program and operated by Catholic Charities of Oneida and Madison Counties, the new facility in downtown Utica will provide an 11-bed emergency shelter for teenagers and three units of supportive housing for young adults.

“Youth who experience periods of homelessness often face an uphill battle to realize their full potential,” OTDA Commissioner Mike Hein said. “Grady’s Way will offer adolescents and young adults a safe, stable living environment for a previously underserved population in Oneida County. And with the services offered at this facility, these youth will be prepared to meet the challenge of a bright future.”

The emergency shelter will serve youth between the ages of 12 and 18. The facility also includes permanent supportive housing for young adults between the ages of 18 and 24. In addition to housing, the facility offers life skills and job training, counseling, and academic assistance. Rental assistance and funding for supportive services for the three permanent supportive housing units will be provided by OTDA through the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative.

Grady’s Way is named after Grady Faulkner, a longtime parent liaison at the Utica City School District, who recognized homelessness among teens in the community and few available resources to assist their needs. Previously, the nearest emergency shelter for youth in Utica was in Syracuse, nearly 60 miles away.

Faulkner approached Catholic Charities about establishing an emergency shelter for youth and the organization subsequently secured $2.2 million from the Homeless Housing and Assistance Program (HHAP), which is administered by OTDA, and $25,000 from the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties. The funding helped to convert a building Catholic Charities owns on Genesee Street into the new facility, which is located next door to the organization’s offices.

The project is part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's $20 billion Homelessness and Affordable Housing Action Plan, which is combating homelessness by building and preserving more than 100,000 units of affordable housing and 6,000 units of supportive housing.

“Youth and young adults who are homeless are highly vulnerable,” said Sheila J. Poole, commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services, which licensed the shelter. “In many cases they are fleeing neglect, abuse, or conflict in their homes due to sexual orientation or gender identity. Homelessness interferes with their education and development. Facilities like these can provide needed stability and consistency and give youth a place where they are supported to develop life skills and work experience to place them on a path to success.”

Senator Joseph Griffo said, “I am pleased that the $2.3 million renovation project of Grady’s Way is complete. Thanks to this project, homeless teenagers and young adults in the region will have access to a variety of resources and services that can help them learn critical life and job skills and find stable living arrangements.”

Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon said, “Grady’s Way will provide our at-risk youth with a safe place to live and rebuild their lives. The work that has gone into creating a home where young men can feel safe and valued is inspiring. I thank Catholic Charities and the project’s other sponsors for believing in Mr. Faulkner’s mission and wish Grady’s Way success as they open their doors to the community.”

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said, “As we continue to combat youth homelessness in Oneida County, having partners like Catholic Charities is essential to our success. This new residence will provide young men with a welcoming and safe place where they can receive the tools they need to better their lives. I applaud Grady Faulkner for the vital work he does to improve the quality of this community and I thank the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance for providing the funding to bring the project to completion.”

Catholic Charities of Oneida and Madison Counties Executive Director Denise Cavanaugh said, “This is a significant day in our community’s history that will have a profound effect on the well-being of our youth. Catholic Charities, along with Grady Faulkner and his team, and the Mohawk Valley Housing and Homeless Coalition, have been preparing for this day for several years. We have been working tirelessly to provide an extraordinary environment for our adolescent boys who are homeless; in order to give these youth a chance.”

Project Founder Grady Faulkner said, “Now our work begins. With my original core team and some new strong leaders, we are going to forever change the lives of the young adults of Grady’s Way. Our goal will be to give these young adults the tools needed to prosper and develop into great men with a promising future. I am so excited to finally be able to see the doors of Grady’s Way open and I’m very humbled by all the support we have received from our community.”

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