Rescue Mission to split three ways upon impending move

Allan Robins in his Rescue Mission apartment (Photo: KTSM)
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POSTED: Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 8:10am

UPDATED: Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 2:14pm

NewsChannel 9 has learned the El Paso Rescue Mission plans to split into three facilities when it moves in early 2016 in order to make way for the Loop 375 expansion.

The shelter, currently sandwiched between West Paisano Drive and I-10 in West El Paso, will also be forced to abandon its recent $2.5 million second floor addition, home to low-income apartments.

Rescue Mission Director Blake Barrow said Tuesday he plans to rebuild the apartments in Central El Paso, at 900 Wyoming Avenue.

The emergency shelter, currently the first floor of the mission, will split into separate men’s and women’s facilities and move to a location at Citrus Place and East Paisano, near Cotton Street, Barrow said.

He said TxDOT, which will be purchasing the land on which the mission sits, has appraised the property at $5.9 million. Not nearly enough to rebuild, according to Barrow. So the negotiations continue.

Barrow said the goal is to have rebuilt apartments ready before TxDOT’s February 2016 deadline, in order to ensure a seamless transition for his tenants.

“The emergency shelter is going to be a little bit later,” Barrow told NewsChannel 9. “We’re dealing with land that we’ve got to clear; there are some buildings that we need to bulldoze.”

The apartments units, which rent for $295 a month with three daily meals included, opened a little over a month ago. In order to qualify, tenants must earn less than $17,400 per year and be clean and sober.

Allan Robins arrived the Rescue Mission nine months ago and completed the shelter’s relapse prevention program before moving into his single-room apartment.

“I lost my kids, was doing drugs, and sleeping on the bench outside of Greyhound,” Robins said. “I’m getting everything back slowly but surely, and as long as I stay clean, I should get it all back.”

Nikki Santangelo showed NewsChannel 9 her rented space, a dorm-style apartment she shares with seven other women, each with their own bunk bed.

Santangelo, who was recently released incarcerated, said she was happy with her new accommodations.

“It’s way better than where I was,” she said.

Santangelo earns her rent money by working the mission’s front desk and said she dreams of going to culinary school. But for now, she said she’s content just having somewhere safe to sleep.

“It means a lot to me,” she said. “Where else would I go?”

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