Advertisement

Winter weather causing more people to seek warmth at homeless shelters

For the rest of the Winter season, both shelters look to help as many people as they can, to stay warm and have a better quality life.
Open Doors is a low-barrier shelter in Harrisonburg that houses the City's homeless overnight.
Open Doors is a low-barrier shelter in Harrisonburg that houses the City's homeless overnight.(WHSV)
Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 5:53 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Below freezing temperatures and recent snowfall, have more people seeking a warm place to stay.

“On snowy days when sidewalks are covered and precipitation is coming down, there’s really no place for those guests who don’t have a home to go,” said Joel Ballew, Executive Director of Open Doors shelter in Harrisonburg.

He says subfreezing temperatures can be life threatening if someone is outside too long. Open Doors, located in the former Red Front Supermarket, has a capacity of 50 beds. This winter, Ballew says overnight guest numbers have been constant at about 40. But on days with severe Winter weather, the shelter remains open throughout the say to accommodate more people.

“In those kinds of situations, we are permitted to have a few extra guests come in and stay, but they have to sit at our dining tables. We don’t really have a bed space for them,” said Ballew.

The same goes for the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Salvation Army’s homeless shelter. Captain Harold Gitau says because of COVID-19 space is limited, but when it’s cold, they try to accommodate as many people as possible.

“Freezing and below, we open our shelter 24/7. So, if any residents want to come in they’re able to come and just be somewhere warm,” said Captain Gitau.

Normally, the Salvation Army’s shelter can house up to 42 people. Now, to keep everyone socially distant, the current overnight capacity is ten, with just one person in each room.

Both shelters say the continue to follow CDC safety guidelines to protect it’s guests from COVID-19. For the rest of the Winter season, they look to help as many people as they can, to stay warm and have a better quality life.

Copyright 2021 WHSV. All rights reserved.