Kalispell shelter makes space for displaced hotel guests

KALISPELL — Samaritan House, a Kalispell homeless shelter, has made space available to accommodate displaced guests from the FairBridge Inn extended-stay hotel, Executive Director Chris Krager told the Daily Inter Lake Thursday.

Krager was hopeful Samaritan House will be able to house all of those who need a place to stay after the FairBridge closes on Saturday, although he wasn’t sure exactly how many FairBridge guests would ultimately turn to the shelter on 9th Avenue West.

According to FairBridge CEO Steve Rice, approximately 100 people are being displaced from the extended-stay portion of the hotel, which was sold to Portland-based Fortify Holdings with a closing date scheduled for Saturday.

Fortify plans on turning the hotel into 250 studio apartments, but as part of the sale, the buyer requires the property to be delivered “completely vacant,” according to a letter from Fortify to Rice dated Jan. 21.

Rice sent a notice to residents on Jan. 12 informing them they would need to find alternative accommodations by Saturday.

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

Krager at Samaritan House said the nonprofit is “poised perfectly” to absorb the FairBridge Inn residents. Samaritan House expanded into a second property last year, and Krager said the nonprofit operates a multi-purpose facility where beds could be installed on an emergency basis to address the sudden need.

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

“People in need of assistance can get the full complement of services offered by Samaritan House including shelter, case management, kitchen/cafeteria and other co-located outreach efforts by other local organizations,” stated a press release from Samaritan House. “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 come at around $45,000 to $60,000 a month, Krager estimated. Those costs represent additional staffing, food and utilities, among other operational costs, Krager said.

He is hopeful community members will donate enough to cover those costs for approximately a month and a half. Krager also said Samaritan House could use donations of bed linens, pillows, twin-sized mattresses, food items and a washer and a dryer to support an increase in the shelter’s population.

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

He also expressed his appreciation for Community Action Partnership of Northwest Montana and that organization’s role in supporting the 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 this coordinated effort will be able to help those displaced from the FairBridge secure a stable alternative to living at the hotel.

“I think we’re going to be able to make a commitment to seeing them through until they’re set up in their own place,” he said.

To donate to the Samaritan House, go to www.samaritanhousemt.com.

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