Shelters Seeing Record Numbers

By: Brian Johnson
By: Brian Johnson

The Volunteers of America is facing the worst overcrowding it has had in 15 years.

"There is some real need going on here," said Patrick Patterson, Executive Vice President of the VOA. "This isn't just the seasonal weather story. We've got the worst overcrowding in our history. There's a variety of factors that may be contributing to that."

The normal rooms are full and the VOA has added lots of extra beds. What is normally just a service center, is also being used as a sleeping area at night.

"I'm concerned about the levels that we are seeing we can't keep running new hope at this capacity forever," said Patterson.

Last December, the VOA shelter averaged about 50 people each night, this year, it has been well above that.

The shelter has also given out thousands of extra meals to people like Jill Dowell.

"I just thank God for the VOA because if it wasn't for them I don't know where we would be," said Dowell, who is homeless. "I thank God for them everyday."

Jill Dowell has gotten help from the VOA for about three months.

"With the cold temperatures, we are getting a lot of people from being under the bridges, and stuff," said Dowell. "They are coming in to seek warmth."

The temperatures are expected to drop even lower next week.

"If someone tells us they are worried about someone trying to stay out there we'll go out and make an attempt to bring them in," said Patterson.

The shelter isn't sure what's causing the increase, but it hopes people will step up and help, during this time of need.

The City Rescue Mission is also at capacity, and has been since August. About 160 people stay there each night.


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