MedStar

Fort Worth Opens Emergency Homeless Shelter

Shelter beds are full during extreme heat wave

For the first time in the summer, the city of Fort Worth is setting up an emergency homeless shelter.

The shelter will open Tuesday night at Broadway Baptist Church, just blocks from the city’s homeless district on Lancaster Avenue.

Volunteers were setting up dozens of cots on Tuesday afternoon.

With the extreme heatwave, the city considers this an emergency because homeless shelters are full.

"The heat is ridiculous man,” said Vickey James, as she staked out a place in the shade in front of the Presbyterian Night Shelter. “It's too hot for us to even be out here."

She said she’s watched the past week as people have been passing out.

"There's not a day that goes by that MedStar is not out here three, four, five, six, seven, eight times,” she said. “It's too hot. People getting sick.”

The city often opens emergency shelters during the winter, but has never opened one in the summer.

The reason? Fort Worth's population is increasing, and so is the number of homeless people, officials said.

Now, during the heatwave, people who normally sleep on the streets are showing up at the shelters.

And there's no room left.

"Beds are at capacity,” said Debbi Rabalais, PNS’s vice president of homeless services. “I mean, it really becomes a life-threatening situation when people are outside for this long at these temperatures."

With 85 extra beds in the church, the city said everyone who needs a cool place to sleep should now be able to find it.

"We want to ensure that if people want shelter that they have a place to be cool at night,” said Tara Perez, a city employee who oversees homeless outreach.

The shelter at Broadway Baptist Church will remain open through Sunday and city officials will make a decision then on whether or not to continue, she said.

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