The falling temperatures and snow are forcing more homeless people into shelters. The Homeless Alliance said the pandemic, coupled with the winter weather, has made finding available space more challenging than ever.
Though their goal is to help as many people as possible, shelter officials said they have been getting more creative over the past month.
“We were already down a number of beds in Oklahoma City and now that the shelters aren’t able to open overflow beds, we have even fewer,” Homeless Alliance director of communications Kinsey Crocker said.
When winter temperatures dip below freezing, shelters prior to the pandemic had an additional 180 overflow beds available on nights like Sunday.
Due to social distancing efforts, Homeless Alliance said those beds are no longer an option, leaving many in need of warm shelter to fend for themselves.
“What are you going to do at 8 (p.m.) when somebody shows up and their clothes are soaked with melting ice and it’s 30 degrees outside,” Homeless Alliance executive director Dan Straughan,
In order to try and help as many as possible, Straughan said they’re opening their day shelters at night.
The emergency solution is only temporary and is a first for the organization. Homeless Alliance said
Homeless Alliance said it has 600 beds on average. Opening up the day shelter frees up another 75 beds total for men, women and children.
“It can be a matter of life and death,” Crocker said. “It’s just really important that we open up these extra beds so that people can get in, get out of the weather.”
Straughan said the shelter could go a little over capacity on emergency nights.
“That may come back to bite us, but so far, it hasn’t,” Straughan said.