TSB Community Contributor
The Samaritan Inn is the largest residential homeless program in Collin County. But it is not large enough to meet the increasing trend of homelessness in our area. A count of homeless residents conducted by the Collin County Homeless Coalition last year revealed that the number of people experiencing homelessness in Collin County had increased 44 percent since 2011. There was a 50 percent increase in family homelessness. In 2012, the Inn was directly impacted by these increases and had to turn away 3,754 potential residents because it was full to capacity.
The Samaritan Inn, located in McKinney, was established in 1984 by the Collin County Ministerial Alliance. Originally planned as an emergency shelter for men only, the Inn also began serving women and children in 1999. The Inn moved to its current location at 1710 North McDonald Street in 2003, thereby tripling its capacity to 160 people. Development continued with the addition of a thrift store in 2005, the Gateway Apartments (transitional housing) in 2007, and a separate administration building in 2010.
Over the course of the last five years, the Inn, under the leadership of its Executive Director, Lynne Sipiora, has explored options to further expand its operation and services. Earlier this year, an opportunity arose to purchase 15 acres of land located 300 yards south of the current facilities.
On February 19, the McKinney City Council unanimously approved the rezoning of that parcel of land in order for the Inn to continue to pursue its purchase. The Inn’s Board of Directors, with President Rick Wells at the helm, voted unanimously at its Board Meeting on April 30 to purchase the land. “The purchasing of this property,” said Wells, “is a historic moment, as it ensures that The Samaritan Inn will have a place to grow in the future and to continue to meet the ever-increasing need of people experiencing homelessness.”
With her eyes set on the future, Sipiora sees wonderful potential. “We envision a state-of-the-art shelter built on this property,” she said. “The land is heavily wooded and has a creek and makes an ideal location for our new facilities. Families that reside at The Samaritan Inn arrive in crisis. We are so pleased that we will be able to continue to provide all the necessary programming and education to help them regain their dignity and independence. And, with our new property, we will be able to provide these services within a beautiful environment.
“The staff of The Samaritan Inn is thrilled with the acquisition of this new property,” continued Sipiora, “because we know firsthand how much these services are needed. Telling a family that is living in their car that there is no room is by far the toughest part of our job. We have had to do that far too often, and that is about to change!”
This project will be a massive undertaking, and The Samaritan Inn will need the support of people throughout our community. A capital campaign will be launched in order to build the first phase of the project. If you would like more information about our expansion, or want to get involved, please call Lynne Sipiora at 972-632-1290, ext. 229.