Corpus Christi: Good Samaritan Rescue Mission Relocation Awaits City Council Decision
Feature Photo (above): Good Samaritan Rescue Mission’s home, nearly 80 years old, is undersized and too dilapidated to meet the organization’s needs. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Corpus Christi (Nueces County) — The administrators of the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission are taking their chances on getting near unanimous support from City Council, but a decision will not likely come until next year.
With the support of the Ed Rachal Foundation, Good Sam has been looking forward to moving out of its dilapidated and nearly 80-year-old facilities and relocating into a renovated elementary school campus.
The Foundation acquired Lamar Elementary in the Central City area from the Corpus Christi Independent School District and, to date, has gutted the interior to prepare for a multi-million dollar renovation.
Unfortunately, the project ran into heavy opposition when the Foundation and Good Sam went before the Planning Commission in October. Residents that would live near the proposed homeless shelter spoke one after another against, insisting that it could only exacerbate problems in a low income neighborhood already suffering from drug and prostitution related crime.
This was despite well reasoned arguments to the contrary. The Good Sam program does not tolerate drug possession on campus; residents must be working or looking for work, and if not they are kept occupied on site assisting in the maintenance of the facilities. Carole Murphrey, Good Sam’s executive director, argued the opposite–that residents would bring additional eyes to the street and be a deterrent to criminal gang activity.
However, the Planning Commission responded most to the residents’ alarm and voted against the project.
Good Sam and the Foundation were left with difficult options–consider another location or press on to City Council and hope to get a super majority; with the Planning Commission against, Good Sam must get seven of 10 votes to proceed. But the Foundation has already purchased the real estate.
“We can’t move forward if that doesn’t get approved. We’re in limbo right now,” Good Sam’s assistant director Alfred Martinez told VBX.
The zoning request–a change from institutional government and single family to Intensive Commercial with a Special Permit to operate as transient lodging–came with a favorable report from city staff.
The zoning case was to have been on this week’s City Council agenda, Martinez said, but it was postponed. Considering the approaching holidays, council may not take up the issue until after the New Year.
Meanwhile, Martinez said the Foundation has been lobbying council members, and Good Sam staff has given tours to those council members interested in accepting their invitation.
“The city manager and the mayor are behind us,” Martinez said, understanding, he added, “that we’re a solution to the homelessness issue, and us expanding is going to help get some people off the streets.”
Sleeping quarters in the current facility. Image: Google Streets.
Plans for the adaptive reuse of the school are to provide 308 beds. That is 78 more than currently available.
In addition to the remodel work, plans include new construction to connect the two main buildings on site to form a horseshoe-shaped single structure. The conceptual floor layout separates the first floor into a women’s dormitory with 87 beds, a men’s dormitory with 50 beds, and a family dormitory with 6 beds. The would also be two ADA beds.
The second floor layout provides 151 beds in a men’s dormitory, eight beds for couples, and four non-bunk miscellaneous beds.
The new transient center would also include a dining and kitchen area to serve only those staying at the facility, an open-air courtyard, covered gym, administrative offices, laundry facilities, and parking. The Center will have volunteer staff members on-site to monitor the facility 24 hours a day.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.