Thursday, July 25, 2024

Open Door will host Code Blue Shelter after all this winter

By Maury Thompson, Chronicle Freelance

The Open Door mission at 226 Warren Street in Glens Falls has reversed plans and will provide “Code Blue” shelter services this winter and going forward.

“The winter months, you need that safety to get in out of the cold,” Jamie Munyon, executive director of The Open Door, told The Chronicle Monday.

With renovation of the third floor completed, he said it will be possible to continue housing Code Blue while expanding its longer-term housing program that helps residents gain the employment and life-style skills needed to achieve stability.

As a result, the Greater Glens Falls Salvation Army on Broad Street has ended its efforts to open a separate emergency housing shelter in Glens Falls.

“Our intention was to fill a gap,” Major Stephen Carroll, the new local Salvation Army leader, told The Chronicle Monday.

Now, a second shelter seems no longer necessary, Major Carroll said.

“Down the road, if there becomes a need, we’re open to it,” he said.

A “Code Blue” facility provides overnight shelter for the homeless from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. on nights when the temperature is 32 degrees or lower, including the wind chill, or when 12 inches or more of snow is expected.

In fall of 2022, The Open Door planned to discontinue Code Blue and other short-term emergency housing in shifting its focus to providing “transitional housing,” which is longer-term housing that includes services to help the homeless eventually become self-reliant.

The Open Door agreed to operate its Code Blue shelter for the winter of 2022-23 while Warren and Washington Counties’ Social Services departments and area charitable organizations explored other options for emergency housing.

As a result, Salvation Army, in conjunction with county social services departments, began working on a plan to establish an emergency housing shelter.

Conceptually, the shelter, or perhaps multiple shelters, would have provided 20 beds for men, 10 beds for women, and four units for families, officials said in December 2022.

The goal was for the Salvation Army to be able to open its shelter by next winter.

Ultimately, it was decided that Open Door, which has experience offering Code Blue services, should continue offering that, Mr. Munyon said.

Open Door has operated a Code Blue program at various locations since the winter of 2013-14. “It’s a challenge, as to space, for the mission,” but the service is important, Mr. Munyon said.

He said its “Life Path” transitional housing program continues to be Open Door’s priority focus. It uses an eight-step program of small-group meetings and coaching geared to help participants recover from addiction, develop life skills and gain education.

Participants remain in the residential program for as long as needed. Currently 30 people are enrolled.

“There have been some amazing stories,” Mr. Munyon said.

The Open Door has space for up to 60 participants, and intends to increase enrollment as soon as staff can be hired.

“We could definitely use at least three more people in direct care positions,” Mr. Munyon said.

The Open Door, a non-denominational Christian ministry, also operates a soup kitchen and a food pantry. It serves, on average, more than 1,600 meals a month, according to its website.

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