Midstate homeless shelters pushed to capacity as cold drives more to seek refuge

Written by Rachel McDevitt, All Things Considered Host | Jan 29, 2019 5:23 PM

(Harrisburg) -- As temperatures plummet, more people are seeking refuge at midstate homeless shelters--and many facilities are being pushed to their limits.

Bethesda Mission's men's shelter in Harrisburg has 78 beds, and they are usually full.

Director Bill Christian said they often house about 100 people, but winters present a particular challenge.

During especially cold weeks, mats are placed in a chapel area to accommodate an extra 30 or so people.

A cold snap last week had area shelters extending hours and altering procedures to house those who need it.

For example, Christian said people seeking emergency shelter don't have to follow the normal intake process

"Those who come in under hazardous weather don't have to go through the assessment process or anything, because in most cases all they're looking for is someplace to stay that night and then move on," he said.

While Bethesda Mission doesn't turn people away, it sometimes refers them to other shelters.

Christian said partnerships with Downtown Daily Bread, which has 40 beds, and Susquehanna Harbor Safe Haven, which has 23, have helped ease the strain on resources.

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