Shelter feeds 100 for holiday

With temperatures dipping to a low of 12 degrees, about 100 people spent Christmas at the Warming Souls Winter Overflow Shelter at First Metropolitan Community Church.

"They had a big Christmas dinner at the overflow shelter last night," Tracie Harding, a house manager at the Inter-Faith Ministries Inn homeless shelter, said Saturday.

About 75 people spent the night Christmas Eve, Harding said. The shelter, usually open from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m., stayed open during the day Christmas. On Christmas Day, another 23 people joined the shelter for a total of 97.

That didn't include the 35 people — plus children — taking shelter at Inter-Faith, Harding said.

Inter-Faith's shelter also had a Christmas dinner, Harding said.

The shelter opened Nov. 1 and will stay open through the end of March, said Janis Cox, co-chair of its sponsor organization, Advocates to End Chronic Homelessness.

Last year, the overflow shelter served 373 people. The cots there were filled 10,847 times.

"Some people stayed nearly all the five months and some only a few nights and everything in between," Cox said.

People who need shelter check in at Inter-Faith and take a bus to participating churches. This month, First Metropolitan Community Church is host to the shelter. Women and children stay at another location.

The overflow shelter will move to First United Methodist Church in January. In February, the shelter will be at St. John's Episcopal Church the first two weeks and at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception — also called St. Mary's Cathedral — the last two weeks, as well as the first week of March.

Inter-Faith's community room will hold the shelter the last three weeks of March.

"Of course there are many, many other churches that are helping provide food at those locations," Cox said.

Cox said the number of people needing shelter usually goes up in January.

Temperatures are expected to rise a little starting Monday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Kleinsasser.

Today the high is expected to be about 30 with brisk northwest winds 15 to 20 mph. Wind chills will be in the teens. There may be a few flurries tonight.

On Monday, the high will be in the mid- to upper 30s, and winds will die down to about 5 mph.