Collin County's only homeless shelter buys church, will expand

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on June 15, 2010 at 10:25 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 16 at 9:15 AM

The Samaritan Inn

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McKINNEY — Imagine losing your job, your home and your car.

In Collin County, you're lucky if you get a room at the only homeless shelter around.

The Samaritan Inn turns away people every week. The shelter is full year round.

But there will soon be more room at the Inn.

Gloria Thornton says without the Samaritan Inn, she doesn't know where she would've gone for help. “When you don't have anywhere to go, it’s so hard," she said. "This has been a godsend for me."

 On the day Thornton came to the shelter, she was fortunate enough to get the last available bed.

“If we're full, you can go to Sherman and try your luck there — if you have a car," said shelter director Lynne Sipiora. "Or we'll put you on a bus to The Bridge in Dallas. Those are you're only other options."

The Samaritan Inn staff issued an appeal. Four donors came up with the cash to buy Victory Christian Church, across the street from the shelter. They paid $475,000 cash, which means no mortgage.

The shelter's administrative staff will move into the church. That will free up space for 11 more family rooms at the shelter.

"That’s 40 more people we will be able to help because of the purchase of the church," Sipiora said.

Gloria Thornton says more space means more people will be off the streets. “I think it's great because there's nothing worse than sleeping in your car or not even having a car to sleep in," she said. "And you don't know where your next meal is going to come from."

The Samaritan Inn campus is expanding. The newly-acquired church is next door to the Gateway Apartments. Shelter residents who find jobs but still can't afford rent can move to the Gateway, where their rent is subsidized for 18 months.

And this is all in a county known for its wealth —  not for its homeless.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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