Emergency Facilities Helping Unsheltered Homeless in Dallas During Cold Weather

There are an estimated 10,000 homeless in Dallas with only about 2,600 beds available each night in the city

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Wednesday in Dallas, most North Texans will likely see just rain and temperatures in the 30s. But these weather conditions are still dangerous.

That brings up the question: Where will the homeless go to stay dry and warm?

Nonprofits and other agencies, like OurCalling, are jumping into action to help the most vulnerable -- the unsheltered homeless on the streets.

OurCalling, a daytime homeless outreach center in Dallas, opened its doors ahead of winter weather forecast to hit North Texas Wednesday.

Volunteers were hard at work overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday morning bringing in women and elderly into what little space they had at their facility on Cesar Chavez Boulevard.

The next morning, the smell of hot oatmeal and toasted bagels filled the air as clients woke up from a warm space to sleep.

"We plan for these events all year long," said executive director Wayne Walker.

The organization has an emergency alert system for the homeless, which Walker said they've spent the entire year cultivating contacts for. When the forecast calls for wintry weather, they send out a massive message through phone, email and personal outreach.

That connects the homeless to resources and shelters with extra space, including the City of Dallas -- which opened up the basement of the J. Erik Jonsson Library downtown as an emergency shelter.

According to Walker, about 80% of the homeless in Dallas have cellphones. Outreach workers try to connect with others to make sure the right information goes out to prevent injury or death in the wet weather and frigid temperatures.

"In reality, unsheltered homeless -- which means people who sleep outside -- has increased by over 500 percent in the last five years. So, when we see the tragic reality of people sleeping outside in our city, it brings to light the catastrophe on days like today when staying outside can be lethal," Walker said. "We will lose people to death due to cold weather or hot weather throughout Dallas."

Those needing help can sign up for alerts from OurCalling by texting the word “homeless” to 555888.

OurCalling also sent clients out with a resource book detailing where they can find food, medical care and more. The city of Dallas will be monitoring the weather throughout the rest of the day Wednesday and the week to continue helping the homeless.

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