A cold-weather shelter for the homeless is expected to be up and running later this month.
Samaritan House, a local nonprofit group, has received approval from the city to set up a homeless shelter in the old 2G’s bar building at 1509 Seventh St., next to McDonald’s restaurant.
The owners, Vince and Vicki Howell, are donating the space rent-free for the first year. Samaritan House hopes to open the shelter starting Nov. 21. Its hours will be 6 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Samaritan House used to have a shelter for years where the Rio Gallinas School is now, but the group closed that shelter because it no longer met code.
Last year, Samaritan House ran a pilot program to measure the need for a shelter in the county. It had shelters alternately at the First Presbyterian Church and St. Paul’s Peace Episcopal-Lutheran from Thanksgiving through March.
The group housed an average of seven people a night; more than 75 volunteers staffed the shelter during the winter.
Samaritan House is accepting donations for the shelter and is planning a community work day at the building from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7. The group is most in need of plumbers and electricians to help with the project.
Until the shelter opens, Samaritan House is looking for a temporary place for the homeless because the weather has turned cold earlier this year.
Naomi Swinton of Samaritan House said the group has long sought to help people who are stranded while coming through Las Vegas, but it also wants to assist those who have lived here a long time.
“What we found last year was that there are a good number of people who have been here a number of years who are having trouble finding housing,” she said.
Samaritan House, which is teaming up with Life Link in Santa Fe, is preparing to get $180,000 from the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority to help people who are at risk of losing their housing. The public can find out more about how to access that money at a meeting at 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, at St. Paul’s Peace Episcopal-Lutheran.