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hut interior

The interior of a hut found in Cole's Woods recently.

Don Lehman

Last week I wrote about a crude shelter I found in Cole's Woods that I found after a friend mentioned to me he had stumbled upon it.

I wrote that I was looking for more information about it, and Friday afternoon I got an email from a representative of Captain Community Services, a non-profit human services organization that is based in Clifton Park but helps people around the Capital District, explaining the organization's connection to the shelter and "hundreds" of others like it around the region.

Among the services the organization provides is assistance to the homeless, including homeless youth, said Samantha Annas, street outreach manager for Captain Community Services. Locally, the agency partners with Wait House in Glens Falls.

Over the years, Captain has put together a map of makeshift shelters (which Annas called a "squat") available for the homeless around the Capital District, and it directs people in need to them when they need to get out of the elements. The only requirement is that they not trash them, and that they improve them if they can. Captain outreach staff teach those who use them how to reinforce them with branches, tarps, wood and stone.

Annas said she doesn't know who built the one in Cole's Woods, but that the shelter has been on a map of places that Captain clients have used for years.

"It's a place we direct people to when they need a place to stay, mainly in the warmer months when Code Blue (shelters) aren't available," she said.

She said there are some in Glens Falls, including one within sight of the Glens Falls Civic Center, and a number just out of downtown Saratoga Springs. They are hidden because often they are in spots where the public or police would roust them if they were visible.

Annas offered to take me on a tour of the shelters around our region, of which I plan to avail myself.

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I also got emails from other readers who told me about other shelters like this one in wooded areas of Queensbury and Glens Falls, including one just off Warren County Bikeway. Much like my friend Gregg Burdo, who has lived in local woods for decades, they show human resourcefulness at its best.

-- Don Lehman



Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on

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