With wicked winter weather possibly on the way, homeless outreach groups across North Texas are racing the clock to get homeless people in shelters before the temperatures drop.
Tarrant County Hands of Hope works closely with the homeless and is preparing to help through the winter weather.
“Right now on the logistical side of it, we are pulling the blankets that we’ve had that are donated to us [along with] gloves, caps and coats,” John Ramsey with Hands of Hope said. “Sorting those by size, getting those ready to distribute to those that we come in contact with.”
Hands of Hope sees the need in the community first hand.
“We had a man found [dead] in his tent just this past week out in the Northwest part of Fort Worth and those are the types of situations that break our heart,” Ramsey said. “We want to get to them and see if we can be some kind of intervention to prevent that from happening especially if it is weather-related. No one should die weather-related when shelter is available to them.”
Ramsey said their first priority is encouraging homeless people to get into a shelter.
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“We’ll even offer them transportation on the night of the event when things get cold like that,” Ramsey said. “Not only in the short term does it give them the connection to get them off of the street, but we are able to also do housing assessment for them to be able to do that permanent connection for stable housing.”
In Dallas, OurCalling, a daytime homeless outreach center, will open it's shelter Tuesday.
OurCalling will provide food, showers and serve as a gathering spot for those who need to get out of the cold.
The shelter is planning to send out an Emergency Broadcast to homeless individuals Tuesday, warning of the drop in temps and recommending they come inside. Coordinating with area shelters and other organizations, OurCalling will also use its “Bed Availability” software to direct homeless individuals to safety.
If the shelters cannot accommodate the growing homeless population that now exceeds 10,000 people, OurCalling will offer its building these next few days to serve as a temporary overnight emergency shelter.
OurCalling said four out of five homeless people in Dallas have no shelter. The charity adds that 9 percent are veterans, 75% are older than 40 and 32% are women.