Shelters filling quickly during frigid temperatures

Shelters filling quickly during frigid temperatures

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by DIANA RUGG / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @DianaRuggwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on November 24, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 10:00 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Temperatures are expected to drop 35 degrees overnight in Charlotte, and the cool-down will catch many people by surprise.

Charlotte’s homeless shelters are trying to get the word out on the street that they’re not turning anyone away.

“We're crowded every night,” said Deronda Metz of the Salvation Army Center of Hope, the women and children’s shelter.  “We ran out of beds a couple of years ago.

By 9 o’clock Saturday night, Metz said the dining room at the shelter was already filling with cots.  About 365 women and children were already at the center with only 250 beds.

“They will have to sleep on a mat and mats are low,” said Metz, “so once mats run out you'll have to just get a blanket and hunker down and be there for the night.”

The most the shelter has ever held is 400 people, said Metz.  This weekend is crowded because Room in the Inn – a network of churches and YMCA’s that help house the homeless in small groups overnight – doesn’t start until next Sunday.

She’s grateful the shelter hadn’t run out of blankets yet.  Overnight guests will get to stay longer than usual Sunday, too, since temperatures will hover just above freezing until after lunch.

On North Tryon Street, the men’s shelter filled up fast too.  Men made their way up the sidewalk to the building as night fell and temperatures dropped.  Others stayed put in uptown.

Al Stevenson was looking at spending the night on the streets because he doesn’t like to go to the men’s shelter when it gets too crowded.

When the weather turns cold, the Charlotte native starts calling family members to see if he can find a place to stay.  No one had returned his call by 5 o’clock Saturday evening.

“As it gets later in the night, it gets colder,” said Stevenson. “When I have to, I have like three blankets church people come by and give us -- and I crawl up under that at the warmest church I can find.”

As he spoke, his phone rang.  It was his mother.  She would come to get him. 

“That's her coming to get me to take me out of the cold,” he laughed as he hang up.  “Thank The Lord!”

Saturday night is covered.  But then Sunday night is expected to be even colder.
 

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