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Saratoga Springs may have found its Code Blue shelter; some neighbors opposed

June 04, 2019 07:28 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The Presbyterian New England Congregational Church, on Circular Street, just a block off Broadway, has been welcoming homeless people for years. It serves as a year-round soup kitchen.

Nolan House, the church's office building, is the overflow for Code Blue when the other temporary cold-weather shelter is full.

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"The mission of this church has been to serve vulnerable communities," said Pastor Kate Forer.

So when the church offered to become the permanent home for a cold weather shelter for the homeless, shelter operators jumped at the chance, especially because Soul Saving Station Church - the home of Code Blue for the past three years, has told them their building is not available this year.

Karen Gregory, Shelters of Saratoga's executive director, says they'd need to add bathrooms and showers to Nolan House to be able to accommodate up to 55 people.

However, some neighbors, like Eve Mulholland, who lives just a couple doors away, say they're already dealing with problems associated with homeless people who come to the church for a meal and a place to sleep.

Mulholland says she supports the idea of a permanent Code Blue Shelter in the city, but putting it at the church will make the problems worse.

"There's physical fights, there is screaming and yelling, profanities," she said. "It's terrible to say, but people are urinating and defecating not just over the church property, but all over their property as well."

Gregory says they'd post a security guard to keep a watch over things and she wants neighbors to know they make safety a priority, even vowing to spend the night on church grounds later this week to see for herself what the neighbors' worries and concerns are.

Gregory said Tuesday that her biggest fear is that someone will die in the cold.

"This right now is our only viable option and if we don't have this, we don't have any option at all. And people will be on the street in freezing temperatures," Gregory said.

Mulholland (no relation to this reporter), isn't going away quietly, "The neighborhood is mobilized and we are going to fight this."

Credits

Mark Mulholland

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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