It is the unfortunate reality that men are far more likely to experience homelessness than any other group of individuals, with a total of 352,211 (or 22 out of every 10,000) men facing homelessness in the US in 2020. With each passing year, the number of homeless individuals in the US continues to increase, illuminating a growing problem within our society.
In an effort to combat this problem, the Housing Services Center aims to provide emergency shelter and resources to local men struggling with homelessness. Previously located at 1074 S. Clinton St., the original shelter, known as Catholic Charities Men’s Shelter, is being relocated to a vacant commercial building at 1801 Erie Blvd. E. to make space for JMA Wireless’s new 5G campus on Syracuse’s South Side. Prior to the project’s commencement, it was agreed that Catholic Charities Men’s Shelter, which had also been built by Rich & Gardner, would remain open until the new shelter’s construction concluded. This meant that Rich & Gardner was tasked with transforming the vacant building into a safe and comfortable place for those in need.
Catholic Charities of Onondaga County (CCOC) chose Rich & Gardner as the project’s construction manager as the two have worked together in the past, strengthening their existing partnership. In addition to working with the Catholic Charities, Rich & Gardner worked closely with the project’s architects, Holmes King Kallquist & Associates. Upon completion, this project will benefit countless men facing homelessness, providing them with a safe place to spend the night and hard-to-come-by resources such as laundry facilities and showers. And yet, this project is so much more than ‘just’ a men’s shelter.
The construction of the new Housing Services Center began in December 2021 and is expected to finish in mid-January 2023. Prior to the decision to relocate to 1801 Erie Blvd. E., Rich & Gardner worked closely with Catholic Charities to determine the best location for the shelter, having considered three different sites before selecting the best one. The two parties also collaborated to develop the necessary budgets, work with different funding sources, and meet the M/WBE requirements.
The total project cost amounts to approximately $12.85M and is being funded by New York State’s Homeless Housing and Assistance Program; the federal budget, Onondaga County; and many other donors —including the Allen Family Foundation.
The shelter, located a couple of miles from downtown, will house 80 beds and receive state licensing. The shelter is set to have a dormitory, where all of the beds will be located, and a commercial kitchen accessible by all of the shelter’s guests to develop their skills through workplace development programs. It will also have leisure space, a dining area, and both a physical and mental health clinic. Attached to the shelter is an office building also undergoing renovations to support the 40 staff members responsible for the shelter.
In addition to the shelter and office space, there will also be a single-unit apartment building currently set to contain eight units. However, if funding permits, up to four additional units may be added. While the offices will be at street level, the dormitory and apartments will be eight to 10 feet below street level, requiring extensive planning to ensure proper lighting and safety are available. The outside area of the shelter will feature a patio and landscaped area designed specifically to create a comfortable indoor and outdoor space.
Upon completion, the men’s shelter will be fully operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing homeless men with their own storage locker and full access to laundry facilities, restrooms, and showers. The help and support this new shelter will provide for homeless men in need is transformative, and Rich & Gardner could not be more proud to be a part of this life-changing project.
There are many purposes for the men’s shelter, but the main two are to provide increased housing for the homeless men population and to provide them with mental and physical health services. The shelter will offer these homeless men a safe place to sleep at night, sheltering them from the poor weather conditions and violence they face when living on the streets. In addition, throughout the winter months and when the temperature falls below 32 degrees, the shelter will operate over capacity.
The shelter has also introduced various programs that they will employ to ensure that they are providing the best and most valuable services to those they serve. The first program is Housing First, which focuses on the homeless assistance approach that prioritizes providing people experiencing homelessness with permanent housing. The staff will also utilize the motivational interviewing program, a counseling approach to help people from all walks of life find their motivation to make positive behavior changes.
The shelter will also be implementing a Harm Reduction program. This program will incorporate a wide range of strategies that aim to reduce the negative consequences of drug use, including safer use, managed use, and abstinence.
The staff are trained to provide trauma-informed care, as many homeless men struggle with untreated trauma that hinders their ability to secure housing, maintain employment, and form meaningful relationships with others. It is the hope that by providing this type of care, many of the men who come to the shelter will be able to process and heal from their trauma, opening the door to new opportunities and helping them get back on their feet.
Between the various programs and training, the Housing Services Center will be well-equipped to handle their guests’ varying needs. Ultimately, the overarching purpose of the men’s shelter is to become a stepping stone in the journey of those they help, taking men from the street and providing them with the tools and resources to break the cycle of homelessness.
Rich & Gardner have been lucky enough to partner with Catholic Charities of Onondaga County on past projects, all of which have benefitted the local communities. Catholic Charities aim to create hope and transform lives, a mission Rich & Gardner wholeheartedly supports. Their mission drives each of the projects they take on, so it is a great honor for Rich & Gardner to be a part of the men’s shelter project team.
Catholic Charities state, “we are dedicated to caring for those in need while promoting human development, collaboration, and the elimination of poverty and injustice,” which is precisely what the new men’s shelter will do. Their various support programs help an average of 19,000 people a year, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or nationality. With the new men’s shelter nearing completion, the number of people they can help will likely increase.
Working with a partner with deep-rooted ties within the community reminds Rich & Gardner that the projects they take on and the partnerships they foster truly impact the surrounding communities. So, by choosing the right partners and projects, such as the Catholic Charities Men’s Shelter, Rich & Gardner can make a positive difference.
Rich & Gardner would like to thank Catholic Charities of Onondaga County for their continuing partnership and the support and aid they provide to our communities. Because of partners like Catholic Charities, vulnerable populations and those in need have access to safe shelters, warm meals and food drives, and the proper resources, programs, and tools.
It was apparent throughout the project that every individual working with Catholic Charities shared their mission and values, doing all they could to secure funding and support to expand their capabilities to help the most people possible.
Nothing is more fulfilling to the Rich & Gardner team than finishing a community project and seeing firsthand the positive impact it has. Because of this shelter, men facing homelessness will not only have a safe place to sleep at night, but they will also be able to participate in various programs designed to expand their employable skills and improve their physical and mental well-being. Above all else, this shelter creates hope. And at the end of the day, that is what this project is all about —hope.
Here at Rich & Gardner, we strive to make a difference. To us, each and every project we take on makes a difference to someone, so if you’re looking for a construction partner for your next project, contact Rich & Gardner today —because we believe that every project has the potential to make a difference, you just need the right partner.