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City to give money for shelter

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By David Giuliani

The local group providing shelter for the homeless will get some help from the city.

Last week, the City Council voted unanimously to give $10,000 to Samaritan House while officials work with the group on a long-term solution.

Earlier in the year, Mayor Tony Marquez had appointed council members Andrew Feldman and Morris Madrid to a homelessness task force. Madrid noted that he hadn’t done a “lick of work” on the task force and asked that Feldman, who has been involved in the process, to make the motion for the funding. Feldman did just that.

Feldman noted that some had concerns with giving money to Samaritan Shelter because of the state constitution’s anti-donation clause, which bars public money from going toward private causes without getting something in return.

However, Feldman said the contract calls for Samaritan House to provide services and report back to the city on what it is doing, “so the citizens and the city government know what we’re getting for that money.”

Samaritan House has also sought money from the San Miguel County government. County officials haven’t made any promises but say they’ll present the issue to the County Commission.

Starting last month, the First Baptist Church, 201 Mountain View Drive, has been providing a shelter for the homeless at night. The church will offer this service until Dec. 21.

Samaritan House is looking for another church or organization to provide a shelter for the subsequent month.

Meanwhile, the group is preparing the old 2G’s bar building, 1509 Seventh St., which is next to McDonald’s, to be a permanent shelter. But the project to renovate that building is taking longer than expected, requiring extensive electrical and plumbing work.

At last week’s council meeting, Samaritan House members requested that the city help with transporting homeless people to the Baptist shelter because it’s not centrally located. The 2G’s bar building, on the other hand, wouldn’t have that problem, they said.