Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Homeless Shelter Already Approaching Maximum Capacity
Police are forcing more people out of homeless camps and the economy is pushing others over the edge. Meanwhile, safety is becoming a bigger issue.
We may not like to think about it, but winter is right around the corner and that can present a deadly problem for Anchorage’s homeless.
Officials are looking for ways to keep people safe and one of them is to make sure they have shelter. But in these last days of August, the shelter is already close to capacity.
“We are running 235 to 238 people a night,” says Brother Francis Shelter manager Dewayne Harris.
“We are just one cold snap away from getting additional people who may be camping in more isolated areas who will come in and push us over capacity.”
And there is every reason to think that will happen soon. Police are forcing more people out of homeless camps and the economy is pushing others over the edge. Meanwhile, safety is becoming a bigger issue.
Barbara Westcost is a homeless woman who says she is angry about the new city policy to clean out homeless camps. She says some campers find themselves without even a blanket to stay warm.
“Next thing you know they don’t have nothing,” says Westcost. “They don’t have no blankets or nothing. They walk around cold and winter’s coming. They are going to get hypothermia and then the people are freezing and dying.”
Toney Casillas is a homeless man who says he almost died himself last winter on an Anchorage sidewalk. He was picked up and taken to the hospital where he stayed for the better part of a week. He says the thing that would keep him safe is pretty simple— to quit drinking.
As for the Brother Francis Shelter they plan to take in as many people as they can, then send the overflow to Bean’s Café. After that, they say they may ask the city to come up with a better solution.