Temperatures are expected to drop starting Wednesday and local shelters are preparing for the upcoming winter months.
When the weather turns, shelter resources are strained with people needing a place to get out of the cold, said Executive Director of Interfaith Hospitality Network Elaina Bradley.
“As the temperature drops, we are fully prepared to provide shelter to an increased population,” she said. “We will increase our shelter occupancy at each shelter. In the event that we reach our occupancy- we have a partner agreement in place with the Salvation Army to provide emergency shelter. We will notify the community.”
WHIO Storm Center 7 predicts the weather will turn cold this week starting Wednesday.
“A strong cold front will be crossing with blustery conditions and falling temperatures,” WHIO Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell said. “Temperatures will drop back to around 10 to 15 degrees below average beginning Wednesday with the cold air likely to stick around at least through mid-December.”
There will be little relief between now and then, he said.
“There may be some brief moderation in the temperatures (approaching normal) by early next week - only for more cold air to surge in by the middle of next week,” Elwell said.
The winter can be a dangerous time for the homeless, Fred Stegner of the Springfield Soup Kitchen, said. Those who live in tents, vacant homes, under bridges, in their cars or other places without reliable heat need to find a warm place to stay.
To ensure there are options for those in need, about two years ago agencies around Springfield, including Interfaith Hospitality, the Soup Kitchen and the Salvation Army, came up with a plan. First, people are referred to Interfaith Hospitality and other shelters. They work to place people and families in safe shelters and homes.
After they are filled, emergency shelters open. Those include the Salvation Army and the Springfield Soup Kitchen.
Though it is not as cold as it will likely get this winter, Stegner said, he has heard people voice concerns about not having a place to go.
“I’ve already had a homeless man who lives on the bike trail and he is deeply worried about where he is going to be this weekend,” he said, noting the man has medical issues. “It’s going to be too cold out.”
While the soup kitchen focuses on providing food for those in need, officials have also gathered warm clothes and even some heaters for people who need them. Though, because of cost, Stegner said the kitchen can only loan out the heaters for a period of time.
Springfield is lucky to have many agencies working together, Stegner said, because that means more people can be served.
“We rely heavily on the cooperation of all the agencies in town,” he said. “We rely on and work together. We are working for the same purpose. To save lives and keep people out of pain and suffering.”
In Urbana, the Caring Kitchen has a shelter for those in need and also offers food and clothes.
By the numbers:
1,000: Those helped by Interfaith Hospitality during winter last year
26 degrees: The low expected for Wednesday
20: low of the week expected to take place on Friday