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Warming shelters expecting more people than ever

The biting cold Monday night drove many to local shelters and the shelters now face new challenges with more people.
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Warming shelters are gearing up to house more people than ever before.

The biting cold Monday night drove many to local shelters and the shelters face new challenges with more people.

“Our biggest night so far with guests has been about 342 guests,” said Tylor Jones with the Downtown Rescue Mission.

Those who run the shelters plan for another historically high number of people. It’s become their biggest challenge at the city’s Salvation Army. They can fit just over 100 people at night.

“Space,” said Captain Chris Bryant with the Salvation Army about their biggest issue. “We’ve just outgrown our current facilities. A community growing like Huntsville’s growing, you see people coming up here looking for opportunities. With the growth also the need grows.”

From locals who are homeless to people who don’t have functioning heat or can’t afford to keep it on, anyone is welcome at either shelter. Folks at the DRM believe they’re seeing more people now because they have a new place for them to go.

“Really more people coming is the new norm because we now have Owen’s House, a second facility for women and children,” said Jones. “We’re taking what we had last year being just kind of an insane amount of guests to accommodate to adding another hundred steadily.”

He expects to see up to 400 people a night during the winter. 

To get in to the DRM and Salvation Army shelters at night you need an ID, preferably state-issued for the Mission. They also ask you get there by 8 p.m.

If you’re trying to get into a shelter that requires an ID but it doesn’t have to be a state-issued ID, try to get your COC, or continuum of care card. The North Alabama Coalition for the Homeless can help you get one but they need a letter of reference from where you’re trying to get in.

You don’t need an ID at the Grateful Life Community Church and you can have pets. For the church to open as a warming shelter it must be below freezing for 24 hours.

The Salvation Army especially needs toiletries and underwear for higher number of people it’s helping. The Downtown Rescue Mission needs blankets and coats.

For a list of more shelters from the NACH click here.