Fall might be the time of year for leaf-peeping and pumpkin-carving for most of us Saratogians, but for the homeless people here, it’s a reminder of hard, cold days to come. This winter, at least in Saratoga Springs, those without a permanent roof over their heads will have a place to go and stay warm, thanks to Shelters of Saratoga (SOS), a local nonprofit that provides winter housing through its Code Blue Saratoga program. Last week, SOS announced that after a months-long scramble, the organization, along with the City of Saratoga, had signed a two-year lease at a new winter facility at 4 Adelphi Street just outside of Downtown Saratoga.
“Mayor Meg Kelly was really instrumental,” says Karen A. Gregory, Executive Director of SOS. “We worked hand-in-hand in the search for a new location, and we had a lot of conversations with the community, which has led us to the most current site.” Code Blue’s previous location had been out of the bottom floor of the Soul Saving Station Church on Henry Street, which is currently repurposing its downstairs and kitchen areas. The new building at the corners of Adelphi and Union Streets will provide almost 4000 square feet of space, enough to accommodate, much like the previous site, around 50-60 individuals. “The Soul Saving Station Church was great, and they gave us plenty of notice, but we’ve been looking for another location since January of this year, and it’s a relief to have found one,” says Gregory.
However, the new shelter isn’t ready to open its doors just yet. The facility, which was previously a recycling depot for bottles and cans, requires some winterization—the installation of heating, electrical outlets and insulation—as well as other upgrades. Gregory says that SOS is currently raising money for the estimated $50,000-70,000 required to get the building winter-ready and running for this upcoming cold-weather season. In addition to the City of Saratoga kicking in some of its funds to renovate the new shelter, two Saratoga-based companies, Bonacio Construction and B&B Plumbing and Heating, have both offered to help out. “They’ve been instrumental in the building upgrades,” says Gregory. “We met with them right out of the gate, and they’ve been a massive part of this.” (Those interested in making donations can also do so at the nonprofit’s website.)
In spite of the challenges, Gregory says that the shelter’s currently on schedule to open by mid-November. Even though the new Code Blue space on Adelphi Street isn’t a permanent facility—a longterm goal of SOS—Gregory says that they’re getting even closer to zeroing in on a lasting, future location. “We’re hoping that the two-year lease will give us enough time to locate and have a permanent solution,” says Gregory. “We’re working on some definite possibilities right now, which we feel really good about.”