As the temperature goes down, the preparations are heating up for another season of volunteers running area warming centers.
We went down to the outside of the Mental Health Association which is a new location for an overflow seasonal shelter.
Starting on November 18th, an overflow shelter will be taking in some of Erie’s homeless here at the Mental Health Association.
“There are folks who are literally homeless right now who on Wednesday night will be warm and safe and on a pathway to permanent housing,” said Kurt Crays, Executive Director of Erie United Methodist Alliance.
Crays organizes seasonal overflow shelters that rotate locations every two weeks.
Crays said that despite facing some challenges related to the pandemic, the Mental Health Association has stepped up as a new location.
“Everybodys expected to to wear their masks. Everybody is going to be socially distancing themselves as you can see behind me all of the work that the MHA has put into protecting this year,” said Crays.
One volunteer said that despite the extra time and effort it took to make these accommodations, the volunteers said they felt a calling to help.
“It’s a risk to open and we know that it’s a risk but we feel called to do that and we’ve been working to the health department,” said Pat Tracy, Volunteer at First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant.
Tracy added that so many people are struggling right now and that she’s glad that First Presbyterian and Church of the Nativity Community Centers are still locations for the seasonal shelter this year.
Other more permanent shelters like Erie City Mission are having to limit the number of beds to follow social distancing protocols.
“Cut our numbers by probably 50% to ensure that kind of distance. It is such respiratory spread that we just have to do it. It is definitely going to impact the number of homeless beds that we have,” said Darrell Smith, Chief Operating Officer at the Erie City Mission.
In order to possibly stay here or at one of the other overflowing shelter locations call 814-SHELTER.