The City of Utica and the Cornerstone Community Church on 500 Plant Street are created a new partnership to combat blight and chronic homelessness in Utica.

Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri was joined by Pastor Mike Ballman and city and community partners at Proctor Park on Wednesday to announce the partnership to support the church’s social enterprise program, which employs persons who experience chronic homelessness.

Homeless individuals who take part in the program will assist Utica City jobs in cleaning and improving public areas, including picking up litter and trash, watering flowers and painting lamp posts and fire hydrants

The City is investing $120,000 in Community Block Grants funds which are allocated through the Coronavirus Air Relief and Economic Security Act.

Participants in the program will be paid for their work out of the grant funding.

“We have a moral obligation to help those in need, and this program is an investment that provides homeless individuals an opportunity to work, build self-esteem, recognize their value and contribute to our community.  I commend Pastor Ballman for his compassion, leadership and dedication to improving the lives of others,” said Palmieri.

The program is led by Pastor Ballman, who works in close coordination with Department of Public Works  Commissioner Dave Short.

It runs Monday through Friday and is made up of ten-member teams.

“We, at Cornerstone Community Church, are grateful for this unique opportunity to nurture civic pride by providing work for our most vulnerable neighbors and clean streets and parks for all of our neighbors.  We would like to express our thanks to Mayor Palmieri and his staff for enthusiastically providing the resources and encouragement to undertake this project,” said pastor Ballman.

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