SARATOGA SPRINGS – Plans for a Code Blue shelter at 5 William St. in Saratoga Springs are no longer happening after operator Shelters of Saratoga announced it has decided to change locations.
Shelters Executive Director Duane Vaughn announced Friday afternoon that the lease for the city-owned property, formerly the senior center, had ceased with the city.
“We want to stay focused on continuing to provide a successful Code Blue and additional services, and immediately went to work to find alternative solutions,” Vaughn said. “We will continue to engage our community as our plans progress, and look forward to making an announcement soon.”
Last October, Mayor Ron Kim announced plans to move the senior center, which had been housed in the 5 Williams St. building, to the new addition to the Saratoga Springs YMCA on West Avenue and then make the Williams Street location a year-round homeless shelter and navigation center.
Once the building was vacant, Shelters of Saratoga, which is currently operating a Code Blue shelter at 4 Adelphi St., would move that operation to Williams Street and establish the navigation center to help people with various services.
Kim said he’s reached out to other organizations, such as RISE, about operating the facility as a year-round homeless shelter, not just when Code Blue is in place.
Prior to Vaughn’s statement, Shelters posted a message on its Facebook page noting the decision had come after hearing community concerns. On Monday parents, community members and a student of Saratoga Central Catholic School spoke out against the location, which would share over 200 feet of property line with school’s athletic fields.
A petition seeking to move the shelter has garnered almost 1,500 signatures on Change.org. A group of parents frustrated with the decision have also hired an attorney to look into what they could do legally.
Kim could not be reached for comment on whether the city will still move forward with making the location a low-barrier homeless shelter.
Superintendent of schools Giovanni Virgiglio Jr. said the city’s plan is “fundamentally flawed.”
“Asking school parents and administrators — Catholic school parents and administrators at that — to reconcile the proposed location of a low-barrier shelter is not only unfair, it’s unacceptable,” he said. “When considering the care and concern for both vulnerable populations, the welfare of our children and students must take precedence. Their safety is already our top priority, and we cannot stand for anything, no matter how well-intentioned, that may put their safety in question. Therefore, we must vigorously oppose the city’s proposal as it stands today.”
Virgiglio said children’s safety remains the schools top priority. However, he also emphasized that no leases have been signed and no proposals approved and that the supporting and caring for the homeless is part of the church’s faith.
“We must always recognize that those who need shelter are our brothers and sisters, they are made in the Lord’s image just as each of us – this should guide our advocacy and efforts to bring resolution,” he said.
The school has set a meeting for families and Kim for Feb. 16. The time and location will be forthcoming, according to an email sent to families.
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Categories: News, News, Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs