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Homeless shelter at local church

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By David Giuliani

A local church is stepping up to provide a shelter for the homeless for the next month.

Starting more than a week ago, the First Baptist Church, 201 Mountain View Drive, has been hosting a temporary shelter during nights. It will provide this service through Dec. 21.

Samaritan House, a local nonprofit group that helps the poor, is seeking another church to offer its building for the subsequent month.

The group had hoped to get a permanent cold-weather shelter up and running this month in the old 2G’s bar building at 1509 Seventh St., next to McDonald’s restaurant.

But the project to renovate that building has taken longer than expected.

“It turned out the building needs more work. We’re having to do some plumbing and electrical work,” said Naomi Swinton of Samaritan House. “We hope to be there early in the new year.”

Samaritan House has approached both the city and the county for help in funding the shelter, which would be open through June. Members estimate the cost would be $6,400 a month, which they hope could be split between the city and the county.

“This would fund a bare-bones budget that would include night staffing costs, insurance, utilities and minimal supplies,” Swinton said in an e-mail to Samaritan House supporters.

Swinton said the city has showed eagerness for the project, but the county hasn’t provided any firm commitments.

County Manager Les Montoya said he would approach the commission with Samaritan House’s request. He said the county didn’t have any money for such a request now, but he said the county conducts a mid-year budget review. The middle of the fiscal year is Jan. 1.