Samaritan House is a Transitional Housing center in Saranac Lake that supports those in need from Franklin and Essex counties with temporary housing. Samaritan House opened for homeless clients as of February 1, 2017. Since opening, we have helped more than 350 souls in need of temporary housing with a graduation rate of 85% to independent living situations.
Research and planning began toward the goal of establishing a transitional housing center in our community, to serve short-term, needs of persons without adequate, stable shelter and support. Shelters in Malone, Vergennes and Burlington, VT were visited. Meetings were held with shelter directors, county funding administrators and social workers. In May 2012 the Ecumenical Council joined with North Country Behavioral Health Network, which is the umbrella agency establishing a Continuum of Care program for Essex and Franklin counties. That organization, now known as Franklin Essex Housing Coalition, supports Samaritan House.
It is often thought that homeless persons are found on doorsteps and urban streets, but are not present in rural areas. The rate of homeless and “undersheltered” persons in our community is actually higher (per capita) than in large cities. Our homeless share couches in crowded apartments, or live in garages or abandoned buildings. They may move from one friend or relative to another until they run out of options. They may be found in cars, campers, sheds, or hunting camps. There is no survey method which accurately accounts for the number of homeless in rural areas since statistics are usually drawn from those who have sought and received social services, which are often rare in areas with low population rates.
In 2019, the previous owner of Samaritan House graciously gifted the property to the Ecumenical Council. With that event, the Council has started on a long term program to effect important repairs and stabilize the house for the long term.
As a next step for Samaritan House, the Ecumenical Council is already making plans. As with other ministries started by the Council in past years, our plan is for Samaritan House to form an independent 501-c-3 tax exempt organization to support the ministry into the future.