Night shelters, transport available even if the challenges persist
The Community Partnership of the Ozarks has two main needs right now as it ensures shelters are open at night when temperatures drop below freezing.
One is the need for a central inner city access point where homeless people can grab a meal and be driven to shelters for the night. The other is the need for volunteers to work in these shelters.
Michelle Garand, vice president of affordable housing and prevention at the Community Partnership of the Ozarks, said they currently use summer meal sites — mostly churches — as meeting places for meals and transportation to the shelters. The problem is that these sites are outdoors and people often have to wait a long time in the cold.
“In December, it’s really too cold for people to be outside to eat, you know, for those several hours when we’re registering people at shelter and transporting them, because sometimes we might have to two transportation rotations to get everyone to his site depending on the crowd trying to get there,” Garand said.
The Veterans Coming Home Center had served as a central meeting location in previous years, but was unable to do so this year.
City Utilities provides a bus to take people to the shelters, and CPO provides a shuttle.
There are seven shelters in the churches that allow people to sleep at night when the temperature is 32 degrees or lower.
A church opens at 15 degrees or less, and there are two overflow shelters for a total of 295 beds.
But one of those churches – Grace United Methodist – was unable to open Monday evening to welcome the women due to a lack of volunteers.
“So we absolutely want to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Garand said.
She urges people to consider volunteering at overnight shelters. You can find more information at cpozarks.org/homelessness.
And she said, if anyone is interested in providing a space downtown seven nights a week during the winter for meal service and pickup for those in need of shelter, contact her directly. .