During a meeting in mid-November of individuals who have a stake in providing services to people who live on the streets, a discussion began on how to best alert the homeless when the shelters open their doors to the homeless for overnight stays during cold weather.
“We need to have improved communications between local social serve agencies and warming stations,” Sue Hamby, a member of the Care Network and Citizens for Progress, said.
Through its 211 help line, the United Way of Central Texas will serve as the source of information and references to the appropriate warming station based on each homeless person’s individual needs and circumstance.
The 211 line is operational 24/7, 365 days a year.
“There may be some who don’t want to come inside during cold weather, but this population deserves to have options available,” Pat Patterson said. “That option needs to be better than crawling under an abandoned house for shelter.”
Patterson said either he or Bill Atterberry, both with the Care Network, will make the call to United Way and the 211 help line to activate the shelters when it looks like the temperatures will drop into the low 30s overnight.
After a balmy Monday with highs in the 80s, everything is expected change overnight dropping to the high 40s with rain by early morning, according to the National Weather Service. The lows are forecasted to remain freezing and below through Wednesday.
The daytime temperatures are predicted to be in the 50s through Thursday and up into the 60s by Friday.
Since admission criteria varies between warming station providers, each has completed a United Way form detailing respective eligibility requirements and other services offered.
In the event that a warming station reaches maximum capacity, the providers are required to notify United Way staff and the 211 line and a second provider will be notified to open up.
The homeless seeking heat and shelter may have additional needs, requiring consideration to make the appropriate referral such as storage for possessions and or a place for their pet.
During periods of extreme weather, message boards will be placed in areas where the homeless congregate, such as the Temple Public Library, to notify them of the opening of the warming stations.
Patterson said it took a few days to get the information from the agencies that are willing to shelter the homeless during cold weather.
This protocol will be sent to agencies and individuals who are on the email list of the Care Leadership Network and the Central Texas Homeless Coalition.
Anybody associated with homeless services are on one, or likely both, of these email lists, Patterson said.
“We’re hoping we might pick up a couple of other churches who are willing to help, he said.
At this time, Temple facilities offering warming stations are:
For Day and Night:
Salvation Army McLane Center of Hope, 419 W. Ave. G
Feed My Sheep, 116 W. Ave. G
Impact Church, 306 E. Adams Ave.
For Day Only:
Temple Public Library, 100 W. Adams Ave.
St. Vincent de Paul, 106 W. Ave. D.