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Homeless coalition planning day center

ALBANY -- An advisory group formed to research the problem of homelessness in the city and report back to the Albany City Commission, said this week that plans are in the works for a homeless day center.

Timothy Sweet-Holp, the chair of the homelessness coalition and task force, told city commissioners that actions are under way to create a place that would provide local homeless a place to stay during the day when they aren't allowed in area shelters.

One location that Sweet-Holp said appeared to have the most promise is a building on the 200 block of South Monroe Street that is currently owned by the Lutheran Church.

"Ideally, we're talking about a place where they can come get mentoring, wash clothes, have a United States Post Office mailbox, have Internet access for job hunting and just a safe place to stay during the day," Sweet-Holp said.

The coalition is planning to research grant opportunities through the state Department of Community Affairs and other philanthropic organizations. Its officials have already partnered with the Salvation Army and other homeless advocacy groups like the nonprofit group Mission:Change, which will provide the day shelter with mobile showers until the coalition is able to build its own.

Recent census figures indicate that there are between 150 to 300 homeless living in Albany, but Sweet-Holp cautioned that number is "drastically undercounted."

To help get an accurate count, he said the group plans to help with the upcoming census count to ensure that the homeless participate.