Group Home Emergency Shelter for At Risk Adolescent Males

Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Design Disciplines Needed
Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, Sustainability/Environmental

Desired Services
We are a group home/emergency shelter for at risk adolescent males who have been removed from their homes due to abuse negelect and/or abandonment. As a small human services nonprofit we not only lack in experience in all of the above areas, but funds are limited. We desire a project manager we can trust who can work alongside our Board member assigned to the project, along with contractors who perform quality work. We are seeking help with developing architectural plans that meet the needs of the agency and state regulations. Interior designers to develop an interior that offers a therapeutic and homelike environment using colors that match the mood of each room, i.e. bedrooms colors encourage rest, bathroom color invoke motivation, therapy room colors are calming, etc. The project is located in a residential community on a block where homeowners take pride in their property, therefore, it is important that we develop an exterior that is an asset to the already established pride. Furthermore, any efforts that will help us sustain our property is also valuable, such as energy saving equipment/appliances. Overall, we know what we need, but we need experts that know how to fulfill our needs who can offer us work pro bono. Our goal is to have the renovation completed no later than June 2017.

Project Description

What would you do if a child showed up on your doorstep seeking shelter from an unsafe or abusive environment possibly even at risk of death? CHJ has accepted these at-risk and wonderful children into our homes for over 100 years because we want to do the right thing and we want to do this type of good in and for our community. The goal of the CHJ and its partners is to maintain as much normalcy as possible with youth who have been court ordered to be removed from their homes. Our children are leaving everyone and everything they know behind, so it is important to establish as much normalcy as possible. The boys have outgrown the current facility, the staff office is tiny, there are no clear lines of sight between office and common area, no dedicated staff bathroom, and no office for the Coordinator, quarters are too close which negatively affects the therapeutic environment, limited indoor and outdoor recreational space, lack of privacy for counseling and caseworker meetings and we’ve lost several referrals over the last few years because we do not have enough space to expand our license. When we move the boy’s to a new location, the current location will be the housing for a new teens/young adults in transition/homeless program (TLP). The ideal goal was to purchase and renovate a home in our current area, but after a three-year search, we realized we must think out of the box because nothing appropriate was available.

The facility needing renovated was purchased on an "as is" basis for $15,000 January, 2016. It is a two story Victorian Home in the 17th Ward. Approximate square footage is 3,401. The home has 9 bedrooms, 1 updated full bath, 1 ¾ bath and 2 uncompleted baths, living room, formal dining room, parlor, sunroom, butler’s pantry and foyer. It’s positioned on a level lot with both off street and street parking. New 200 amp electric service and hot water tank. Close to schools, shopping and transportation. Full unfinished basement with a concrete floor. Basement access from bilco basement door in rear with separate lock. The house has been unoccupied for at least two years and the water and gas are winterized. Oak floors on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floors are in good condition.

One of our board members is a construction manager at our local hospital. He estimates the cost of renovation at $100,000. He assessed the property and stated it would need a new boiler, replacement of lead water line, repair of holes in the dormer, new roof, repair of sunroom, new efficient windows, insulation, new drywall, complete new kitchen, 3 new bathrooms, exterior paint, fire escape, new fencing, landscaping, covered carport along with various cosmetic upgrades. Overall, he stated the property is sound and there is potential. In his opinion, the place needs to be completely gutted inside and rebuilt. He agreed to head up the project and stated we need to get an architect to submit plans to the city and DPW. We will need an occupancy license and we could probably get volunteers for the demo.

The Christian Home does not have any religious affiliations. We retained the name out of respect for the Christian women who founded our organization in 1908.


The project is not completed, but upon completion there is a high possibility of increases in income generated from the home purchase. Because the house has extra bedrooms, we will be able to increase our license from 8 boys to 12 boys and also we will use the old boys house as a Transitional Living program for homeless teens.