Our Calling, a homeless outreach and resource center south of downtown Dallas, changed its operating hours Wednesday, in favor of keeping the homeless who seek shelter out of the freezing cold and rain.
"The problem in Dallas is we've got, like, 10,000 homeless people and, like, 2,300 shelter beds," said Our Calling Executive Director Wayne Walker. "We just have a huge homeless population, bigger than it's ever been, growing faster than it's ever grown,and there's just not enough room at the inn."
Our Calling is usually open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., but on Wednesday the center opened at 6:00 a.m., and planned to keep the doors open through the night for emergency shelter. Our Calling did the same thing once before last winter.
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"We got a code violation that is still hanging up on my wall," explained Walker. "We may get another, but it's the right thing to do. There's not an alternative for people to go."
"I know from experience. I've been out there. It gets cold enough out there you can die," said Chris Hill, who said he's been living on the streets for about a month. "When it's raining and wet, as you can tell, it's not a good day."
"I sleep under a bridge at Malcolm X," said Marissa Kramer, who said she's been homeless for about 20-years. "It's not something I would put on anyone else, or I would wish for anyone else." Kramer planned to stay at Our Calling Wednesday night. "The only time I usually sleep inside is when I'm in jail," she explained. "I'm learning how to rebuild. It's hard."
Our Calling offered lunch and dinner for the homeless who stayed Wednesday. Walker said he would evaluate whether to stay open overnight for emergency shelter on Thursday based on the weather reports.