DAYTON — With extreme cold and rounds of winter weather expected this week, warming centers have opened their doors in parts of the area for those looking to escape the cold.
In Dayton, St. Vincent de Paul has opened both homeless shelters into warming centers with focus on helping those in need find clothing, food, and shelter, Michael Vanderburgh, Executive Director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society told News Center 7′s John Bedell. The society operates two homeless shelters, now warming centers, in Dayton. One for women and families at 120 West Apple Street and the other for men at 1921 South Gettysburg Avenue.
In normal weather, SVdP has restrictions on who can enter the homeless shelter, however when extreme temperatures come into play the centers relax those policies so those in need of warmth can get it.
“Even if they have some behavioral difficulties. Even if they have been trespassed before for behavioral issues, criminal issues. When it gets super cold out, we lift our normal restrictions on anybody who may have had behavioral issues in the past,” Vanderburgh said.
“And fortunately there are few people in that category so to get through the cold, we have all the measures we need to make sure everybody can be safe.”
While the centers serve as the respite to cold temperatures, winter is not the most in-demand time for shelter use.
“The greatest demand we have in shelter is actually in the fall. And it tends to be lower in the winter time,” Vanderburgh said.
“Everyone is most concerned about people that they know. Whether it’s friends or relatives, being out in the cold in the winter time. And so people’s doors tend to be open more for people to sleep on their couches, to accommodate that friend or relative that they might not otherwise accommodate,” he said.
As with nearly everything in normal life, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is playing a part with lower numbers in the shelters when people are in need of warmth.
“It’s a scary thing for anyone to have to come into a congregate setting in the middle of a pandemic. I think that’s greatly contributing to our fewer number of people in shelter (compared to this time last year) as well as the eviction moratorium,” Vanderburg said.
The Salvation Army Springfield Corps continued to operate a warming center Monday that was first opened over the weekend. It was not immediately known if the Salvation Army will continue to operate the warming center through the week.
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