Nearly 15 percent more men and 22 percent more women are in need of shelter this season.
It’s the highest number the Community Shelter Board has seen in six years.
Now, a temporary shelter is closing, even as temperatures remain frigid.
Shonda Howard and a group of her friends know all too well what it is like to sleep out in the cold.
“To tell you the truth, this weather is not for anyone to be outside in,” Howard said.
Howard, who is homeless, currently stays at an overflow shelter specifically open for the cold winter months.
The shelter is scheduled to close in five days which is too soon for Howard, who started a petition to keep it open longer.
“Just another one or two months, that way it gives the weather enough time to warm up,” Howard said.
Since the winter cold has stuck around, the Community Shelter Board has already extended the closing date by two weeks.
“It typically closes on March 15,” said Sara Loken of the shelter board. “There’s probably another time or two that we’ve had to extend it a little bit.”
The overflow shelter is designed to sleep 190 people during the winter. So, when it closes on March 31, some will be put on a waiting list for another shelter, but others will be out on their own.
“Personally, I have a tent. I’m homeless like the others,” Howard said. “I’m concerned about the people who don’t have a place to go.”
The shelter board said they hear Howard loud and clear and that they recognize the problem.
“It’s a driving force behind why we think it’s necessary to redesign the way we take care of single adults that are homeless,” Loken said.
It’s a redesign and resource that Howard is counting on until she gets back on her feet.
The shelter board said that while they are over extended in shelters for single men and women, families are never turned away.
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