Warming shelter to open to protect the city’s homeless during freezing temperatures

HUNTSVILLE Ala. -- Below freezing temperatures can be dangerous and even deadly to the homeless. An Emergency Warming Shelter will be opening up to keep our community safe.

700 Americans experiencing, or at risk of homelessness, are killed every year from hypothermia, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. With the bitterly cold temperatures coming our way, the North Alabama Coalition for the Homeless wants to make sure the people in our area are protected.

"Whenever the temperatures drop we have a higher demand on trying to find appropriate shelter for individuals that may be sleeping in their cars or tents," said the NACH Executive Director, Lineise Arnold.

The Emergency Warming Center will open at the Grateful Life Community Church in Huntsville. The center will activate whenever the weather drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for a consistent 24 hours. It will stay open as long as the weather stays below freezing. The center will be opening December 30th at 2 p.m., Arnold says they anticipate it staying open until Wednesday afternoon, depending on the weather.

The Emergency Warming Center will have cots and blankets, it will also provide food, clothing assistance, and over the counter medical care.

Arnold said there are around 285 people in the area staying in shelters, in their cars, or on the streets. Other area shelters like Downtown Rescue Mission and The Salvation Army have enough space for the homeless, but the Emergency Warming Center can provide shelter for those who may have been banned from the other shelters, don't have an I.D., or may have pets.

The North Alabama Coalition for the Homeless will also provide emergency hotel vouchers for those with disabilities that don't allow them to function in a shelter, or for families, especially fathers and their children.

"The single father with kids is our, one of our gap populations," Arnold said. "That we don't have enough appropriate spaces for. So we do try to provide emergency hotel vouchers in those situations, during the extreme cold periods."

City buses will provide free shuttles to the shelters and to the warming center.