SARATOGA SPRINGS – Two weeks into the winter season coupled with predictions that forecast freezing temperatures for most every day this month are pushing the status of the city based homeless shelter from emergency status into a near 24/7 operation.
Code Blue Saratoga, a program of Shelters of Saratoga, provides temporary unrestricted shelter during periods of hazardous winter weather - defined as 12 inches or more of snow and/or a temperature of 32 degrees or less, to include wind chill factor. Last year, the shelter was opened 28 times during the daytime hours over the course of the entire season. That number will already be eclipsed this weekend.
“The daytime temperatures are a lot lower this year,” says Code Blue Director Cheryl Ann Murphy-Parant.
Code Blue was started in December 2013 as a collaborative effort between the City of Saratoga Springs, faith-based groups, individuals and non-profit partners committed to assisting individuals who are homeless. The shelter is temporarily housed at the Soul Saving Station Church, on Henry Street.
Parant said current needs at the shelter include: milk, juices and ice tea mix; butter, sugar and coffee – regular and decaffeinated. Donated items may be dropped off at the shelter at any time. Additionally, a volunteer sign-up is listed on the organization’s website –https://www.codebluesaratoga.org/wordpress/ - where volunteers may sign up for a variety of duties.
The walk-in, emergency homeless shelter offers a hot meal, a warm and safe place to sleep and essential supplies. During the 2016-17 winter season, Code Blue housed more than 5,800 overnight stays and served 6,700 meals.
Shelters of Saratoga, which oversees Code Blue, had hoped to be operating a permanent shelter adjacent to its S.O.S. properties on Walworth Street this year after local business owner Ed Mitzen announced he would fund the costs to build the shelter and local firms Bonacio Construction and the LA Group agreed to forego any profits to keep the building development costs as low as possible.
Shortly after that announcement, however, a group of 22 residents filed a legal challenge claiming the proposed two-story building which would house about 50 beds didn’t fit into their west side neighborhood and that its development is not a permitted use within the Urban Residential Zoning District. Monday night at City Hall, the Zoning Board of Appeals is expected to discuss the matter.