UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – The Rescue Mission of Utica offers several programs to help people of all ages around the city, but it’s also a place for the homeless to go to seek shelter, even when Code Blue is not in effect.

If a location is “low-barrier” it means the emergency shelter does not require any prerequisites in order to stay there, such as a background check, government ID, sobriety, and more.

“We meet the client where they’re at,” said Renee Jewett, Case Manager Coordinator, “We don’t allow active use on our property, they can come into our establishment using, and we will monitor them, but we just ask that they don’t use onsite.”

She continued, “We’re not a facility that has nursing staff or providers that can, you know, monitor for active use.”

“They do have some of those in New York City, but we currently aren’t qualified to do that.”

Renee also wanted to clear up a major misunderstanding…

“We take everybody, regardless of if they are under the influence or anything, we will take them if they are high,” she explained. “We monitor them while they are here to make sure that they’re medically safe, and if Narcan is needed, we will administer our Narcan.”

She continued, “If it’s above our level of care and we feel they need to be sent out, staff are advised to call 911 for the safety of that client, but we do take people in if they are under the influence, they’re not refused services.”

“Even if they were to leave our property, use, and they need to come back to stay – we will allow them to stay.”

There has also been a misconception about the 59-bed emergency shelter for men.

“There have been some misconceptions for our men’s shelter that you need to pass a drug screen – this is untrue,” said Jewett.

“There are times that they can ask for a drug test, but this is basically for health and safety purposes and to get a baseline on them. So, if there is a medical issue that goes on with them, and 911 needs to be called, we can give first responders accurate information that you know, they are a substance user, and this is the substance they use, so they can provide adequate care for them.”