Dallas Office of Homeless Solutions to Open Emergency Overflow Shelter for First Time

Crews set up 240 cots at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Monday afternoon, ready for the homeless to get in out of the cold.

"We do not want to turn anyone away because of the critical need," said Monica Hardman, director of the Office of Homeless Solutions.

The overflow shelter opened at 5:30 p.m. The beds are to be filled only after the shelters and partnering agencies are full.

On any given night, as many as 2,000 unsheltered homeless people sleep on the streets and under bridges and overpasses in Dallas. During cold weather, that can be dangerous -- even deadly.

"I hope it's not just a matter of taking notice this one time of year, but recognizing this is an ongoing concern for our city," said Pastor Rachel Baughman of Oak Lawn United Methodist Church.

The church set up to take in 80 people overnight Monday and Tuesday.

"I have a son out there," Pat Jones said as she organized donations at the church. "That's my prayer today, that he comes back and not be out there on the street."

Jones was making sure the homeless who stayed at the church Monday night had what they needed to be warm, fed and clothed.

"I see my son in all the homeless people I try to help," she said.

The city of Dallas is planning to have the emergency overflow shelter open Monday and Tuesday nights.

"It is a blessing that the city has decided to open the convention center. They’ve never done this before," said Wayne Walker, Executive Director at Our Calling, a homeless service in Dallas.

Walker says he expects roughly 250 people to show up at Our Calling needing shelter.

"All of our shelters make up about 2600 beds. And for every person in the bed there’s still four more sleeping outside in Dallas," said Walker. "So the problem is exacerbated on days like today."

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