FARMINGTON — Masada House is looking at other properties in Farmington to open a men's transitional shelter, its director said, after Farmington City Council on Tuesday denied a zoning change that would have allowed the organization to open a shelter near the Farmington Public Library.

Area resident Juan Ortega said he was concerned the shelter's tenants would scare children using the library. Greg Drake said Grace Baptist Church's school, Crossroads Community Church and the Boys and Girls Club of Farmington would be too close to the shelter, which was proposed for a building at 2107 Schofield Lane.

Masada House Program Director Karen Chenault told neighborhood residents that her tenants would be screened. No convicted violent or sexual offenders would be allowed, she said.

But the council vote was unanimous. Sixty-three percent of neighbors living within a 100-foot radius of the property opposed the request to rezone the lot as "multi-family," which would have allowed up to 12 adults at the building, according to city documents.

"I'm going to continue to look," Chenault said. "We really, really need a men's transitional (home)."

Chenault said she will tour an old San Juan County health building and the People Assisting the Homeless building on Piñon Hills Boulevard. She also plans to meet with city councilors to identify other potential shelter locations.

Masada House, a nonprofit organization, operates a transitional housing program at 610 N. Dustin Ave. for women recovering from substance abuse. The housing program at Schofield Lane would have been its first program for men.

In Farmington, no transitional housing for men exists, Chenault said.

"It just perpetuates the problem," said Stephanie W., a Masada House client who declined to provide her last name because of concerns about public reaction.

She spent 30 days in rehab at Four Winds Recovery Center, she said. If she hadn't had the transitional shelter on Dustin Avenue after rehab, she thinks she might have returned to her unhealthy habits, she said.

Community members attend the Farmington City Council meeting on Tuesday at City Hall.
Community members attend the Farmington City Council meeting on Tuesday at City Hall. (Megan Farmer/The Daily Times)

She has three children living with their grandmother, an ex-husband and his girlfriend, and friends who still "use," she said, "and everybody's waiting for me to get home."

A transitional shelter is a clean, sober home, she said. She said it allows those recovering from drug or alcohol abuse to practice the skills learned in rehab.

Chenault estimates three out of five men or women who leave rehab and have no transitional homes return to drinking. They often return to the places where they can renew connections with people who are still using drugs. Or they become homeless.

"Thirty days, you learn a lot, but it's really a short period in the life of an addict," Stephanie W. said. "If I had to go back home, I don't know if I would have made it."

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.