“Two weeks ago, you couldn’t even come in here.”

Anthony Cortese, CEO of St. Anne Institute in Albany, gestured at the newest addition to the agency that serves troubled children and teens: newly-renovated Bishop Howard J. Hubbard Hall, set to open May 31 as a homeless shelter for runaway youth.

Deacon Cortese, who also serves as a deacon at Christ the King parish in Westmere, Albany, said the shelter program is “very exciting. We want to do this right. [We want] to make the program safe and welcoming.”

St. Anne Institute is a residential and community-based agency, focused on preventative care and guidance for troubled young people. The organization offers residential and day treatment programs for teen girls up to age 21, after-school programs and a preschool program for emotionally-disturbed children.

Deacon Cortese said St. Anne began looking into adding a homeless shelter in 2017, after the closure of a local youth shelter run by Equinox, a human services agency. St. Anne Institute applied for grants and received funding from the New York State Department of Health and Human Services and the Solutions to End Homelessness Program (STEHP) run by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

The shelter will serve boys and girls under the age of 18. There are eight single bedrooms, a living room space, an office/study space and restrooms. Counselors will work with the teens to deal with their respective situations and assist them in getting settled in safe, permanent homes.

Deacon Cortese says the shelter’s mission is to keep as many children off the street as possible.

“We want to be there as an alternative,” said the CEO. “We want to be there as stability and help them look at their living circumstances.”

He said the shelter will give homeless teens “a chance to take a breath, get something [to] eat and not just worry about surviving.”

The shelter will be located in Hubbard Hall, named after Bishop Emeritus Howard J. Hubbard. Deacon Cortese said St. Anne decided to keep the building’s current name because of all the work Bishop Hubbard has done for the community, and specifically for St. Anne.

Anyone using the shelter is welcome to use other areas of St. Anne’s campus, such as the basketball courts, swimming pools, or gym, while under proper supervision from staff. Deacon Cortese noted that girls in St. Anne’s residential program won’t meet with shelter residents to ensure safety and comfort for everyone.

(An opening reception and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new shelter will be held May 31, 3 p.m. See www.stanneinstitute.org.)