Updated 06/28/2012 11:16 AM
New Saratoga shelter holds open house
It's an exciting day for Shelters of Saratoga. The emergency homeless shelter hosted an open house on Thursday to unveil its newest building, which will be ready for house guests by mid-July. As our Megan Cruz reports, this expansion will help the shelter deal with a fast-growing homeless population.
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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- "This place has given me so much. It's basically given me my life back," said Mitchell Bogen, who's currently a guest at Shelters of Saratoga.
Bogen had just two garbage bags full of belongings when he arrived here at the emergency homeless shelter two months ago. He'd recently been released from prison, after serving 16 months for a DWI conviction.
"I lost my apartment, I had two vehicles, all my clothes," said Bogen. "When I showed up at the door here and I saw the house, I couldn't believe this was a shelter."
But Bogen said SOS has been more than just a roof over his head. It's been his stepping stone back into society. That's why he's glad to hear the shelter is expanding next door.
"Them expanding like this, opening up 12-14 beds next door is great," he said. "It's fantastic. It's going to give more people opportunity."
"You can't feel anything other than good right now because we know that the number of times we disappoint folks is going to diminish significantly," said SOS Executive Director Peter Whitten.
Whitten said the shelter's motto is to give people a hand up not a hand out. But that's been difficult the past couple years he said, with homelessness on the rise. In just 2012, they've housed 170 people, but have had to turn just as many away.
"We've turned away so many people on a daily basis that we just had to have more space," said Whitten.
And thanks to community support, this new shelter cost the non-profit nothing. Some work still needs to be done, but Whitten expects it to be completed by mid-July.
Boggen hopes the home will give others the hope it gave him.
"I came from a very uncaring, hostile, and brutal environment to a place where they're compassionate and I know they do care," said Boggen. "Everything will be okay."