Seeking refuge from bitterly cold temperatures, homeless people packed overnight shelters that expanded sleeping capacity for emergency conditions.
The Salvation Army of Augusta’s Center of Hope housed 127 homeless people Monday night, said Development Director John Sebby. Once beds were full, 27 sleeping mats were laid out to accommodate more.
“This is pretty desperate weather,” Sebby said, adding that he wasn’t aware the shelter turned away any people seeking a warm place to sleep. “They all got in somewhere.”
After breakfast, the Center of Hope on Greene Street took men to day shelters and community centers to stay out of Tuesday’s freezing temperatures. Women and children were allowed to stay inside the center all day, a departure from its normal policy.
Garden City Rescue Mission also had a busy night but did not reach its 75-person emergency capacity. Forty-three men slept at the shelter, said Executive Director Keith Pope.
The rescue mission typically releases men back onto the streets at 7 a.m. but stayed open all day Tuesday, Pope said.
It also allowed men who had been drinking alcohol, which is not permitted at the shelter on most nights, to sleep on mats in the building’s lobby.
“It’s better than being outside,” Pope said.
Augusta Rescue Mission housed eight men overnight Monday, about an average night for the shelter, said front desk clerk Lonnie Ward.
The shelters planned to continue operating on an emergency weather plan through Wednesday, making sure no one sleeps outside.
The Center of Hope lifted its limit on the number of stays per month, and women and children were permitted to stay inside.