Shelters Prepare For Cold Weather
by Laura Monteverdi, Reporter
January 17, 2013 6:17 PM
With the cold weather fast approaching, many homeless shelters in Sioux Falls are making preparations to help people get out of the cold and in a warm bed.
The Salvation Army is one shelter that has their doors open and beds ready.
“As long as they come in and do not pose problems and don't hassle the other people that are here, we allow them to come in, sleep and be out of the element," said Major Thomas Riggs, Corps Officer of the Salvation Army.
The homeless shelter opened their warming site earlier than normal, when the weather proved this year was going to be a little chillier than last.
“Usually we start in January, but because of the colder weather that started in December we opened the first week of December and we're going to go into April,” explained Riggs.
Rather than turn people away, the Salvation Army has about 20 extra cots on hand in case they see an influx of people during the cold weather.
“We have a little bit more room, we can put a few more cots up, but we should have room for at least 70 people,” said Riggs.
With temperatures expected to be well below zero, many shelters are predicting their vacancy is going to be very limited.
“Right now we have a couple of male beds open, but with the shift in the change of the weather they are probably going to get filled pretty quick,” said Julie Becker, Executive Director of the St. Francis House, another homeless shelter in Sioux Falls.
The St. Francis House is also helping to get the homeless off the street as well, before the cold weather strikes.
“Typically what we do here at the house is we always make sure that any beds that we have open we make that known to the public so we are filling those beds as soon as possible to get people out of the cold,” explained Becker.
However, if those beds do fill up, the house will send them somewhere they can stay for the night and even provide them with proper clothing to get there.
“We make sure that we address that, between when they leave our facility and go to their next destination, that they are dressed warm,” said Becker.
The Salvation Army warming site is open from 7 P.M. until 7 A.M. seven days a week for those needing a place to sleep.