Kalispell shelter makes room for displaced hotel guests

Samaritan House, a homeless shelter in Kalispell, has made space available for displaced guests at the FairBridge Inn hotel for extended-stay, director Chris Krager told the Daily Inter Lake on Thursday.

Krager hoped Samaritan House could accommodate anyone in need of shelter after the FairBridge closes on Feb. 12, though he wasn’t sure how many FairBridge guests would end up turning to the shelter on 9th Avenue West.

According to Steve Rice, CEO of FairBridge, about 100 people will be displaced in the extended-stay portion of the hotel, which was sold to Portland-based Fortify Holdings with a closing date slated for Feb. 12.

Fortify plans to turn the hotel into 250 studio apartments, but as part of the sale, the buyer is demanding that the property be delivered “completely empty,” according to a Jan. 21 letter from Fortify to Rice.

Rice sent a message to residents on Jan. 12 informing them to find alternative accommodation by Feb. 12.

However, on January 21, Fortify president Ziad Elsahili urged Rice to consider a later deadline to vacate the hotel in a letter. Rice will be out of the office until Feb. 16, according to an automated email.

Krager of Samaritan House said the nonprofit is “perfectly balanced” to accommodate the residents of FairBridge Inn. Samaritan House expanded into a second property last year, and Krager said the nonprofit operates a multi-purpose facility where beds can be installed in an emergency to meet the sudden need.

“This is what we do every day,” Krager emphasized, referring to providing shelter for vulnerable populations in the area.

“People in need of assistance can receive all of the services offered by Samaritan House, including lodging, case management, kitchen/cafeteria and other collaborative outreach efforts from other local organizations,” said a Samaritan House press release. “It is our wish, as well as the wishes of many in the Flathead, that no one sleeps outside.”

But the price tag to make those services available will be about $45,000 to $60,000 per month, Krager estimated. Those costs represent additional staff, food and utilities, among other operational costs, Krager said.

He hopes community members will donate enough to cover those costs for about a month and a half. Krager also said Samaritan House could use donations of bedding, pillows, double mattresses, food items and a washer and dryer to support an increase in the shelter’s population.

“We are so grateful for the community’s support,” Krager added.

He also expressed appreciation for the Northwest Montana Community Action Partnership and that organization’s role in supporting FairBridge Inn guests. Krager said Samaritan House worked closely with CAPNM and other local service providers to gauge the need for shelter and create a solution.

Krager was optimistic that this coordinated effort will help the displaced people of the FairBridge find a stable alternative to living in the hotel.

“I think we can commit to pushing them through until they’re established in their own place,” he said.

To donate to the Samaritan House, visit https://samaritanhousemt.com.

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin can be reached at 406-758-4459 or bserbin@dailyinterlake.com.

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