Saratoga Springs City Council to vote Friday on RISE running interim homeless shelter

A woman speaks at podium in front of banner reading Rise

RISE Executive Director Sybil Newell talks to officials following the ribbon cutting of the organization's new supportive and affordable housing complex in Ballston Spa in May.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — RISE Housing and Support Services is proposing to operate an interim homeless shelter at the former Code Blue site in Saratoga Springs starting Monday, the organization and Saratoga Springs City Council announced during the council’s Tuesday meeting.

The City Council is expected to approve a contract with RISE during a special meeting Friday. The mayor originally had the resolution approving the contract on his agenda for a vote Tuesday evening, but it was removed from the agenda at the meeting in order to hash out a few more details. 

“There are a couple items on the contract bid that need further attention,” said Dillon Moran, city accounts commissioner. 

The shelter, which will be located at 4 Adelphi St., will operate 24/7.

“The program will be low barrier, which means anybody will be welcome as they are and they’re not required to participate in case management or any other services,” said Sybil Newell, the director of RISE. 

Kim also said the interim shelter would be located near RISE’s headquarters at 127 Union St.  

“It’s does offer that synergy in serving [people],” Kim said, 

There will be 25 to 30 beds in the shelter. RISE has also updated the building so it has air conditioning, laundry facilities, privacy fencing around the property, a secure staff area and privacy dividers. People using the shelter will be guaranteed breakfast and dinner, and Newell said she is working to also get lunch. 

“Primarily what we’re trying to provide is community,” she said. “A safe, welcoming environment where people can come and just be non-judgmental — no need to engage in anything they’re not ready to engage in, but they can have a safe roof over their heads.” 

She also said the shelter is not intended to replace Code Blue and that Shelters of Saratoga, which operates Code Blue, is working with the county on a plan for the next Code Blue season. 

“If there is some overlap with Code Blue so be it,” Newell said. “I think it’s always better to have more resources for people than fewer.”

Newell said the shelter is the work of a collaboration between RISE and Julie and Sonny Bonacio. She said the Bonacios have provided “significant funding” to get the program going. Other private donors have contributed as well, she said. 

Kim said the Bonacios provided $100,000 toward start-up costs. The city will provide an additional $340,000 until the end of the year, according to the mayor. 

He said the interim shelter will be in place until a permanent location is found and that the city will provide $300,000 annually toward operating the shelter. Kim said the hope is to find other ways to provide funding and that he will be talking to the county and the state about the issue. 

“This is really a county responsibility,” he said.

Anyone looking to help in the community is asked not to just drop items off to the Woodlawn Garage, where many unhoused people have been living. 

Newell said people can reach out to RISE’s director of outreach and advocacy Victoria Furfaro at [email protected] or by calling 518-587-6193 to donate items. 

Newell said people can also volunteer at the shelter.

Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @ByBriere.

Categories: News, Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs

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