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Salvation Army Will No Longer Host Saratoga Code Blue Program

Supplies inside a former Code Blue Saratoga shelter
Paulina Phelps

For the last two winters, the Salvation Army has hosted Saratoga Springs’ Code Blue program at its building on Woodlawn Avenue, on the city’s west side.

Code Blue offers shelter to the homeless on cold nights no questions asked. This past season, the shelter was open for 92 nights and some days, and averaged around 34 individuals a night. The program is overseen by Shelters of Saratoga.

The Salvation Army made the announcement this week that it would no longer support the program at its building. .

Salvation Army Development Director Michele Brumsey…

“This was not an easy decision. This is a real heart-wrenching decision on behalf of the Salvaiton Army because we do share the mission of Shelters of Saratoga of caring for the homeless and believing that they deserve to be taken good care of,” said Brumsey.

The Salvation Army says that the new regulations under an executive order by Governor Andrew Cuomo to direct shelters to operate when temperatures drop below 32 degrees would restrict the organization from offering any additional programs throughout the winter months.

The organization says it will continue to offer breakfast programs out of the building.

Shelter of Saratoga Executive Director Michael Finocchi says the announcement surprised him.

“I mean, I appreciate everything Salvation Army has done letting us use their facility. It’s a perfect facility, perfect location, all the right amenities. But this really came out of left field on us,” said Finocchi.

Brumsey said the Salvation Army met with Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen before making the announcement, and that a personal issue prevented staff from Shelters of Saratoga from attending that day.

Yepsen, who helped launch the Code Blue program after a homeless woman froze to death outdoors, thanked the Salvation Army for its “time, energy, and effort” in supporting Code Blue for the last two years.

Salvation Army stepped in to host the Code Blue program after the program’s first season, hosted at a local church.

Now, efforts will go into finding a new location. Finocchi says he looks forward to meeting with the Code Blue Steering Committee, Salvation Army, and all those involved to help secure a location for next year.

“Whether somebody steps up and says ‘Hey, we got a space available for you guys to use’ that would be great. Maybe, perhaps, this is the opportune time to start looking for our own location, our own building,” said Finocchi. “But, again, this is all going to be discussed when we meet together as a group.”

Shelters of Saratoga also operates a 35-bed case-managed homeless shelter as well as an adult daytime drop-in center.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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