Group affirms shelter support
Despite a new challenge from neighbors opposing the proposed Code Blue shelter on Walworth Street, Shelters of Saratoga maintains the proposed shelter meets the requirements of a neighborhood rooming house.
A lawsuit was filed by 20 residents last week, seeking to overturn a decision by the Saratoga Springs Zoning Board of Appeals that said Shelters of Saratoga’s plans to build a permanent Code Blue shelter at 14 Walworth St. fit neighborhood zoning requirements.
Executive Director of Shelters of Saratoga Michael Finnochi said, “while Shelters is saddened by the delay in moving forward with the project, we will participate in the legal process with the hope to break ground as soon as possible.”
Neighbors from Franklin Street last week said residents had attempted to meet with Shelters of Saratoga as well as local religious institutions and social service agencies to figure out an alternative solution for Code Blue. Neighbors said they “continue to advocate for an appropriate, smart alternative location for Code Blue services in the city.”
Finnochi and Shelters of Saratoga remain steadfast that the proposed addition to Shelters of Saratoga for a Code Blue shelter is the right move.
“With support of Ed and Lisa
Mitzen, who generously dedicated personal funds and time, along with supporters of this project, Shelters of Saratoga maintains its position that Walworth Street is the smart and effective solution to providing the comprehensive care management people need, not only to find shelter in extreme weather, but to stabilize their lives for the long term. Shelter operations on one campus will provide a coordinated approach through central access to basic needs, extended shelter and case management for those facing homelessness. Project plans include the installation of additional lighting, fencing and the creation of a neighborhood watch program,” said Finnochi in a release. “The ongoing advocacy for a permanent shelter has depleted resources dedicated to Shelters of Saratoga’s core programs: sober shelter, dropin center and community outreach. These programs have provided a pillar of safety to the Saratoga community since 1991.”
This is the second time the neighbors have fought the project. Last year, the Zoning Board of Appeals ruled the neighbor’s opposition to the proposed shelter being a “neighborhood rooming house” as untimely.
A judge, however, ruled the appeal must be heard last fall. Last month, the Zoning Board of Appeals heard the neighbor’s appeal, but voted unanimously that the proposed shelter fit in the zoning requirements.
On Feb. 14, 2017, Shelters of Saratoga announced the Mitzen family would pay for the costs of the proposed facility.