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Saratoga Code Blue Program Finds New Home

Supplies inside a former Code Blue Saratoga shelter
Paulina Phelps

Earlier this year, Shelters of Saratoga was forced to find a new home for its emergency Code Blue shelter after the Salvation Army determined it could no longer host the service at its building in downtown, where it had been for two years.  The program was started in 2013 at St. Peter’s School after the freezing death of a homeless woman.

This week, SOS announced a location had been found. Beginning this November, Saratoga Code Blue will be based at the Soul Saving Station Church on Henry Street.

SOS Executive Director Mike Finocchi said last winter’s executive order from Governor Andrew Cuomo to open shelters whenever the temperature dips below 32 degrees made it harder for SOS to find an available space.

“Everybody was willing to help but thing was once you throw in the whole 32-degree threshold with the governor’s executive order, that kind of throws a monkey wrench into things,” said Finocchi.

Previously, Saratoga Code Blue opened its doors at 20 degrees or on nights with inclement weather. While the new space is smaller than the two-story Salvation Army building, Finocchi said people will still be able to come in and find a warm bed and a hot shower.

“Last year we averaged 34 people a night. And I’m hoping that number has gone down, as I know a couple of the street homeless have reconnected with families,” said Finocchi.

Through the emergency shelter, SOS is able to direct guests to their other support services. The organization operates a homeless shelter and drop-in center on the city’s West Side, but there isn’t enough room to keep a Code Blue shelter there.

“What we’re doing now actively is looking for a building of our own so that every couple of years we don’t have to keeping going through this because we’re just going to keep running out of spaces to house Code Blue,” said Finocchi.

In Glens Falls, the Open Door ministry will again operate a Code Blue shelter this year, says Director Kim Cook.

“I am thankful to say that we are going to be at Warren County again this year at the old Teen Detention Facility. That’s been approved and we’re just getting everything ready to go by November 15 when Code Blue starts,” said Cook.

This will be the fourth season of Code Blue for Open Door. While it has operated as a soup kitchen, Open Door has offered some support services to the needy.

“We’re currently running Bridges Out of Poverty Classes and are starting on Getting Ahead classes for those in poverty, and we don’t have a home for those. So we’re finding free space around town and doing those so we really need a home,” said Cook.   

Things came through for Open Door earlier this month after the Glens Falls Planning Board gave approval for the organization to renovate a four-story building within the city.

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