Local shelters prepare to help homeless population as cool temperatures hit East Texas

Published on Thursday, 7 December 2017 12:57 - Written by

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AUGUSTA ROBINSON, augustarobinson@tylerpaper.com

Local shelters are prepared to assist those who are without homes and seeking a reprieve from the cold weather that has arrived in East Texas.

The temperature is expected to drop into the upper 20s in Tyler on Thursday night, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Aaron Stevens. He said the cooler weather is due to a cold front that arrived in the area earlier this week.

“We had an abnormally warm fall, but winter is here and the cold air has finally arrived,” he said.

In an effort to help protect those without homes from the cold weather, The Salvation Army of Tyler opens its doors for longer periods of time.

“We are a shelter that is open 24/7, but typically we ask our residents to leave campus during the daylight hours in order to search for jobs and housing,” said Haley Hoar, community and public relations coordinator at The Salvation Army of Tyler. “When it gets below 45, we retract that rule. As the cold weather intensifies, we will see an increase of residents.”

Hiway 80 Rescue Mission’s Gateway to Hope facility in Tyler offers, during the daytime on weekdays, a place where people in need can get access to showers, laundry, haircuts, phones, mail, computers and an on-site medical clinic.

Upon meeting with a case manager, those who request the mission’s help in Tyler may be bused to Longview to the mission’s Christian-based recovery shelters program for men and women.

Eric Burger, executive director of Hiway 80, said the Longview shelter allows more people into its doors on life-threatening nights, when temperatures are very hot or cold or if the weather is severe.

Burger said while the majority of those who are homeless are often having a temporary crisis and need help for only a short period, the colder weather can provide an opportunity to help those who may have lived outside and on the streets for extended periods of time.

“You might have someone who maybe isn’t ready to deal with some issues in their life … and then the cold comes, and it gets uncomfortable and there might be more of a willingness,” he said. “Their initial willingness might not be to change their lives, but to get warm that night.

“Often, especially the folks who maybe have addiction issues, they didn’t come to us to get help in that area initially,” he said. “They came for a meal, they came for a shower, they came for something else and then through that relationship we were able to help them address those issues.”

TWITTER: @TMT_Augusta

How to help: Both The Salvation Army of Tyler and Hiway 80 Rescue Mission are collecting items that can be given to those seeking help. Items such as blankets, hats, socks and gloves are needed. Donations can be dropped off at The Salvation Army of Tyler, 633 N. Broadway Ave., from 8:30 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. Monday through Friday. Donations can be dropped off at Hiway 80 Rescue Mission’s Gateway to Hope facility in Tyler, 601 E. Valentine St., from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Donations also can be made at www.salvationarmytyler.org or at www.hiway80rm.org .