5 Williams Street plans will not proceed
There has been recent media coverage regarding the City of Saratoga Springs and Shelters of Saratoga.
We have been working with the Mayor’s office and the City Council regarding how best to re-purpose the Saratoga Senior Center property at 5 Williams Street.
We are deeply committed to our mission of providing supportive services and safe shelter to people facing homelessness and all of the challenges that are a part of building meaningful, sustainable solutions for this community. That is at the heart of our mission.
The plan we proposed to the City was to establish a permanent Code Blue Shelter (low-barrier winter shelter that operates from November-April) and resource navigation center (year-long daytime wrap-around services) for the 5 William Street property owned by the City. We have been negotiating in good faith for a long-term lease. Based on our research, our expertise, and our long-standing experience in Saratoga, we believe our proposal is the right fit.
However, the conversation began to focus on operating a 365-day, 24-hour per day shelter, including the idea of a low-barrier shelter. We made the effort to explore this idea. 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.
After careful consideration, we chose not to pursue the Williams Street location. We believe the same due diligence we invested in our initial proposal is required in the best interest of everyone involved, including a clear understanding of what the City hopes to achieve with either a 365/24 shelter or a low-barrier shelter, and what that means, 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 people facing homelessness in Saratoga County.
We maintain that a fully informed decision is in everyone’s best interest. We trust the Mayor and the City Council would agree.
At the same time, recognizing the imminent need for a Code Blue shelter commitment, we made the difficult decision to seek an alternative solution. We are finalizing a new agreement for a new location, which we will share with you in the very near future.
We shared our decision with the City on February 3. We were encouraged by the response when we raised our concerns and our new solution.
As has been true throughout our history, Shelters of Saratoga is willing to be part of a collaborative effort with the City and any other entities to continue to find the best path forward to help our homeless community. We look forward to being part of that conversation.
Duane Vaughn, Executive Director, Shelters of Saratoga
Kathy McNeice, President, Shelters of Saratoga Board of Directors