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Salvation Army To Close Shelter Criticized By Northside Residents Over Boy’s Murder In 2016

The organization says the high cost of maintaining the facility at 2407 N. Main is the reason it will be closed. The community’s criticism is because of Josué Flores’ murder.

The Salvation Army will close its men’s shelter in Houston’s Near Northside at the end of the year.

The Salvation Army will close its men’s shelter in Houston’s Near Northside at the end of the year because of the expensive maintenance of the facility and residents of the area who are concerned about the shelter’s clients, especially because of the tragic murder of 11 year-old Josué Flores in 2016, are welcoming the decision.

The name of the shelter, which is located at 2407 N. Main, is Harbor Light Center and Red Shield Lodge. Starting January 1, the Salvation Army will start housing men at what is currently its women’s shelter, Sally’s House, in downtown Houston. The name of the facility will change to The Center of Hope.

The women’s shelter will move to a facility for families located in midtown. The Salvation Army says uniting the shelter for women and families will result in resource and staffing efficiencies.

Major Kent Davis told News 88.7 the reason for closing the shelter in the Near Northside is the organization wants to reduce costs and improve services. “One of the things about the Harbor Light Center is that it’s a very outdated building facility,” he noted, “there’s a lot of cost in maintaining that facility.”

Recovery program

The Center of Hope will have programs to help veterans and homeless people who want to get a job, while the men’s recovery program will be administered at the Adult Rehabilitation Center in Washington Avenue.

Davis said no decision has been made about the future of the shelter in the Near Northside. “We are discussing that and we’re looking at our options,” he said.

Area residents held a press conference Friday to say they are relieved because of the shutdown. The shelter has been on their minds particularly since Josué Flores was fatally stabbed multiple times in May 2016 in the neighborhood as he was walking home from Marshall Middle School.

Andre Timothy Jackson, a veteran who was arrested for the boy’s murder but who the Harris County District Attorney’s Office ultimately decided not to prosecute because DNA and blood analyses were inconclusive, was reportedly living at the shelter at the time the crime occurred.

Stella Mireles Walters is a former Near Northside resident who founded the Safe Walk Home program for the neighborhood. The initiative provides training to volunteers who watch the area, especially when children are walking to school or leaving school to return to their homes.

Stella Mireles Walters is a former Near Northside resident who founded the Safe Walk Home program for the neighborhood and has called for closing the Salvation Army shelter.

“Call for justice”

Mireles Walters wanted the shelter to be shut down and told News 88.7 she considers the closing a “call for justice” for Flores and the community. “This has been a great victory,” she emphasized, while noting the shelter has been a reason for concern “because of the lack of respect that the clients from Salvation Army have been displaying over and over again in this area.”

Mireles Walters added there have been “numerous calls” placed to local law enforcement agencies. She and other residents have also argued that a METRO rail stop located in the neighborhood means unknown men go in their community without oversight.

Asked about whether the criticism from the residents was a factor to decide shutting down the shelter, Davis said: “I think that we’ve been really good neighbors with all those wonderful Near Northside community and we appreciate their support.” He underscored the decision is based on “the cost of the facility.”

Halfway houses

The shelter’s shutdown isn’t the end of the road for the residents according to Mireles Walters because there are also several halfway houses in the Near Northside that are also a reason for concern. She said residents will continue monitoring the halfway houses and “making sure that they are following the rules and the laws of Houston, and if they do not, we want to shut them down.”

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Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

General Assignment Reporter

Alvaro 'Al' Ortiz is originally from Spain. He worked for several years in his home country and gained experience in all varieties of journalism, from wire services to print, as well as broadcast news and digital reporting. In 2001, Al came to the United States to pursue a Master's degree...

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