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School-to-shelter deal in limbo

Lamar Elementary pushback has Good Samaritan officials thinking plan is dead
Posted at 9:19 PM, Jan 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 00:32:06-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Good Samaritan Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter at the intersection of Alameda and Kinney streets in Corpus Christi, is considering backing out of a deal that would give it a renovated, bigger building essentially for free.

"I don't see how we can move over there when the neighbors are so completely against it," Good Samaritan Executive Director Carole Murphrey said.

Around a dozen people who live near the closed Lamar Elementary School spoke out against converting it into a homeless shelter at a planning commission meeting last year. The commission unanimously rejected a rezoning request that was necessary for the building to operate as a shelter.

One neighbor claims to have a petition with more than 700 signatures in opposition to the shelter. All of that backlash has Murphrey saying that the odds of moving the shelter are slim-to-none.

"In my mind it's zero percent," Murphrey said. "They are very determined to make sure this doesn't happen, and I can't fault them for that."

Despite that, Murphrey and other Good Samaritan leaders will meet with the Ed Rachal Foundation on Sunday morning to talk about the future of the project.

That foundation is offering to set up the shelter for Good Samaritan and lease it to the charity for $1 a year for 60 years.

Calls to the Rachal Foundation were not returned Wednesday.

Murphrey would also like to meet with neighbors in hopes of easing some of their concerns. If that were to happen, it's possible the shelter moving to the Lamar Elementary building could still be in the works.

"Let me talk with the neighbors," Murphrey said. "Let me have that conversation. And I still haven't gotten to do that yet. I do believe they will meet with me. I do."

News of the likely cancellation of the shelter project was met with mixed emotions by one concerned neighbor.

"There is a relief, because it's really close to our home," said Maria Fuentes, who's lived across the street from Lamar Elementary almost all of her life. "But my next question is, 'What's the alternative for this problem in Corpus Christi? If it's not here, where?' "

Murphrey couldn't answer that question. And while she'd like to make the move to the Lamar Elementary building where she could house 300 of the city's homeless instead of just 200, she's confident they'll be able to continue using their current building that's almost 100 years old.

"We will go on doing what we've always done," Murphrey said. "We'll repair what messes up. Life goes on."