CORPUS CHRISTI, Tex. — In the coming weeks, the city council will rule on zoning request by the Ed Rachal Foundation to convert the old Lamar Elementary School into the new home for the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission.
The Rachal Foundation gave city officials a peek inside the building Friday as part of a guided tour. The public also is invited to ask questions about the community proposed for the old school, as well as to see some of the work the foundation already has done.
“The neighbors, or anyone else who's interested, can come by, talk to us, go inside, see what's already been done, and what the anticipated plans are for this building,” said Rachal Foundation Chief Legal Counsel Myra Morris.
The Rachal Foundation bought the building from CCISD in 2018 for about $78,000. To date, the foundation has spent a little more than $1 million on demolition and asbestos removal inside the building, as well as buying other vacant neighborhood properties.
The plan is for the foundation to invest another $5 million to convert Lamar Elementary into Good Samaritan Village, the new home for the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission. While legally the Good Samaritan is considered a homeless shelter, it supporters say it’s much, much more.
“It's more of affordable housing for low-income people who could not otherwise afford to live someplace,” said Morris.
The idea behind Good Samaritan is to give the homeless a place to stay while they work to get back on their feet.
“We want our beds to go to those that are really trying, not just someone looking to freeload for a night or two,” said Good Samaritan Executive Director Carole Murphrey.
However, many residents oppose Good Samaritan moving to the neighborhood. They're concerned about who will be living there, specifically child molesters and other sex offenders.
"There are already 22 in the neighborhood," said Murphrey.
In October, the city Planning Commission also recommended against re-zoning; but something needs to be done. Right now, the property is only zoned as a school.
“They need to let them re-zone it for something, but not just leave it empty like this,” said Murphrey. “That would be their worst nightmare.”
The project can only move forward with that re-zoning, which is far from a done deal.
“We don't know the outcome of this yet,” said Murphrey. “I just want to show the neighbors that we're not bullies.”
There will be more tours of Lamar Elementary available Saturday from 11am to 1pm. The City Council is expected to hear the re-zoning request Jan. 28.
The foundation said if the re-zoning isn't approved for Good Samaritan, it will find another non-profit to use the building. Morris said the foundation doesn't want the building to sit vacant.