Good Samaritan Rescue Mission is going public about the plans to convert a former elementary school into a new home for the homeless shelter.
KRIS 6 News first reported on Tuesday that the Ed Rachal Foundation recently purchased the former Lamar Elementary School, with the intent of re-purposing it as a new facility for Good Sam.
The buildings at its current location at 210 S. Alameda date back nearly a century and have seen better days. As Carole Murphrey, executive director of Good Sam, describes, "We’re holding the whole thing together with bailing wire."
For now, it’s enough to keep the shelter open and operating for the area homeless who need the services. That number is growing, especially since Hurricane Harvey.
"We had 273 people here during the storm and we never came out of overflow," Murphrey tells KRIS 6 News.
She says more space and a singular facility has always been a goal for the non-profit. However, it didn’t come into clearer focus until a couple of months ago, when she found out the Ed Rachal Foundation purchased the old Lamar Elementary School on Morris Street with the intentions of making it Good Sam’s new home. Murphrey says she and her employees felt strongly about the plan after visiting the site.
Describing the visit, Murphrey recalls, "They all said, ‘This is home. Can’t you see it? This is home.’ And I said, ‘This is home.’"
Local architect Philip Ramirez has drawn up the plan for how the two-acre site could potentially be transformed into the shelter’s new location.
"We will be able to house a hundred more people and our dining room will be about six times larger than the one we have now where we can actually seat the people," Murphrey says.
She’s also more encouraged after seeing the KRIS 6 News story on Tuesday night, when people who live nearby saying they support the move. Murphrey says a new facility will help Good Sam move even more people from homelessness .. to hope.
"Here’s my message for the public. If you’re worried about the stereotype of homeless, just come over here and see if you can find one cigarette butt on the ground. See if you can find any people loitering outside on the sidewalk or gathered around a car. You’re not going to find it," Murphrey says about the strict guidelines of Good Sam, which includes a search for drugs and weapons immediately after people enter the shelter.
"It’s a very peaceful little community of folks that are really trying to get on their feet, and they are getting on their feet."
The Rachal Foundation has already signed a contract for asbestos remediation and interior demolition work at the old Lamar Elementary building. Murphrey says she and the architectural team will take the blueprints to the city next week. If they’re approved and barring any roadblocks, Murphrey hopes that the new shelter will be ready within a year’s time.