Albany Times Union

Spa City shelter defends decision

William Street center “not the best solution”

- By Wendy Liberatore ▶ wliberator­ ▪ 518-454-5445 ▪ @wendyliber­atore

SARATOGA SPRINGS — After enduring threats of violence over the prospect of a 24-hour homeless shelter near Saratoga Central Catholic School and then the wrath of Mayor Ron Kim for pulling out of the plan, Shelters of Saratoga leaders released a statement Monday night saying a yearround low-barrier shelter at 5 Williams St. is not the best solution to address the city’s problem of the unhoused.

“We made the effort to explore this idea,” a joint statement from Executive Director Duane Vaughn and board President Kathy Mcneice read. “There are many implicatio­ns to this type of shelter, a significan­t departure from our recommenda­tion, with a wide range of new factors that must be cautiously evaluated.”

This comes a day after Vaughn emailed city officials, telling them that he and Mcneice have been threatened with violence and personal lawsuits from supporters of Saratoga Central Catholic School who strongly oppose placing a shelter in a nearby city-owned building. While dropping the plans likely pleased parents and school leaders who fought the idea, it angered Kim, who was working on the project.

The mayor said he was blindsided by the change in plans that he learned about through the media. Still, Kim remains committed to the idea of a navigation center where homeless people can access services for health, jobs and housing.

“Bottom line is this: if Duane Vaughn and Shelters of Saratoga can’t provide what the city needs, we will,” Kim said on Monday.

He also said homelessne­ss is a 2023 priority.

Vaughn and Mcneice, their statement read, first want to get a clear understand­ing of “the viability of the site location, 365/24 staffing requiremen­ts, expanded services, community impact, short-term and sustained long-term funding, regulatory implicatio­ns, and the practical impact on best serving the Saratoga Springs homeless community.”

“We maintain that a fully informed decision is in everyone’s best interest,” the statement read. “We trust the Mayor and the City Council would agree.”

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