Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014
Cold Keeps Homeless Shelters Busy
CARBONDALE -- With extreme cold, strong winds, and blowing snow, it's hard to imagine having no place to go during this weather. That's why some homeless shelters are seeing their beds fill up right now.
Communities with larger populations often see more homeless people seeking help. Fires and power outages can also make for crowded shelters this time of year.
Mike Heath with Good Samaritan Ministrires in Carbondale says no matter how bad the weather gets, his shelter is committed to staying open.
"If the power's off, for example, we have a large generator we got through a grant that we can hook up, keep the heat going and keep everything going," says Heath.
They're doing their best to make room for as many people as they can, as space quickly fills up.
"We're almost full. I think we have one bed right now available and that's on the list. So, I mean that will fill up rather shortly," says Heath.
As executive director for the past four years, Heath recalls situations where bad weather has forced people to sleep on floors even in his office. That's where an agreement with other shelters comes in handy.
"When it's cold, it's miserable and if people can get a bed, they're very happy to get a bed," says Heath.
Good Samaritan works with places like the Lighthouse Shelter in Marion to house extra people when the other facility is full. Lighthouse is full in its men's hall right now but still has rooms available for women. Executive Director Sharon Atchison says it's their job to make sure anyone homeless has a place to stay, especially during emergencies.
"We would assess their situation. It may be three days. It may be longer than that. We would look to see if we could help them. We want to make sure that they would have permanent housing in a safe environment," says Atchison.
Heath says during the winter months more people are looking for hot meals and for many, it's the only meal they'll get all day. Which is another reason why it's important to keep the shelters open.
Wind: 16 MPH
Humidity: 70 %