CLAREMORE, Oklahoma - A group of Claremore churches wants to open an emergency shelter for the homeless and anyone who needs help getting back on their feet.

The plan was to move into an old, empty church, but that plan is changing after some opposition from the community.

Twelve Claremore churches, which are part of a ministerial alliance, have committed to funding and operating the shelter. The idea is to help a family or a person in need each night.

“It really is a one, maximum of two nights stay, so that you have a place to land if it’s cold outside or if you’re passing through the area,” Claremore Ministerial Alliance President John Ray said. Ray is a pastor at Destiny Life Church.

He said the plan was to move into an empty building at 6th and Florence, which used to be a church.

Neighbor Holly Leitru described the building as “empty” and “a bit neglected.”

Ray said the alliance already has a potential floor plan for the “Amazing Grace Emergency Shelter” and has an idea of what people can expect.

“The food pantry is full when you arrive and we expect it to be empty when you leave,” Ray said.

But after a city Board of Adjustments meeting this week, plans changed. Ray said some difficult questions were asked, and neighbors spoke up, too.

“There were still some concerns about the idea of an emergency shelter in their backyard,” Ray said. “And so being able to address those specifically, it was helpful to be together at the meeting.”

Leitru said she would have welcomed the shelter.

“I think it being kind of a short-term way to get people back on their feet would be really beneficial,” she said.

Ray said the alliance has decided to move on and look for another location in Claremore.

“What’s the best place? Where’s the best fit for this? We know Claremore needs it. Now we just need to find the right fit. The right facility,” Ray said.

Ray said the alliance is already looking at a couple of other options. He said the goal is to have the facility, wherever that might be, open before the end of this year.

Below is a list of the churches involved. The non-profit Community Action Resource and Development is also involved. 

First Christian Disciples of Christ
FUMC Claremore
Light of Hope
First Baptist
Claremore Nazarene
Redeemer Lutheran
Claremore Assembly
Cedar Point
St. Andrews UMC
St. Paul’s Episcopal