The Roof is scheduled to open in November

Dan Schwartz
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The only shelter in San Juan County that takes in intoxicated people during winter has a contractor and can now open in November, officials said.

Last winter, the Roof took in 7,950 people, offering them a place to sleep overnight where they wouldn't face freezing winter temperatures, said Bill Simon, an administrator for the Salvation Army, the agency that received the contract. He said no one froze to death in Farmington last year during those cold months.

"I looked at our statistics, and there was none because we have that program," he said. "Farmington, New Mexico, is looking after their people."

Farmington City Council last week awarded a nearly $60,000 contract to the Salvation Army to run the shelter from November to March. Kristi Benson, the city's purchasing supervisor, said the organization has won the contract every year since 2011.

About 85 percent of the people who stayed at the Roof last winter were men, according to statistics Simon provided. Nearly 83 percent of the people who slept under its roof were Native American, according to the statistics.

Simon said many of their guests are Native American because the shelter on West Animas Street is close to the Navajo Nation. Its demographics would be different if the shelter were located elsewhere in the county, he said.

The shelter served 6,751 people two winters ago, Simon told The Daily Times for a story published last year.

Officials are also close to opening two buildings to treat alcoholism and homelessness. By late January or early February, they hope to open a sobering house and substance-abuse treatment facility west of the Roof on the Totah Behavioral Health Authority's campus, said its director, Kristine Carlson.

The sobering house is intended to replace some of the services currently provided by Four Winds Recovery Center, the county's only detox center, which soon will close. The center's director, Jolene Schneider, has said the program is too expensive to continue but will accept monthly contracts until its replacement opens.

Carlson said both buildings are on schedule.

"Construction has started," she said.

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