ALASKA - The warmer temperatures aren’t keeping people from using emergency housing.
Catholic Social Services Executive Director Susan Bomalaski said the Brother Francis shelter saw a 38 percent increase during the month of April, which means an additional 90 people are looking for a place to sleep every night.
"It's really hard on the staff because we want this to be a safe place, we want people to come in. We try to help our staff and support our staff but it does get stressful,” said Bomalaski.
She said one reason is that police are cracking down on illegal camps. When officers shut one down they direct the people living there to local shelters.
"Instead of going out to camp, they're in here instead, and that gives us an opportunity to engage them in our services; they can use our showers and our laundry and it keeps them safe and warm which is a good thing,” said Bomalaski.
At Bean’s Café volunteers serve up to 400 meals at lunchtime every day. But it’s not just the amount of food that indicates an increase in people.
"We used to do 86 rolls of toilet paper, we're up to 106 now,” said Executive Director James Crockett.
Crockett said Bean’s Café has seen a 34 percent increase in part because the homeless can now come in when it’s 45 degrees or colder. Before the city changed the ordinance, the temperature was 32 degrees. With more mouths to feed Crockett said the goal is to keep costs down.
"I marvel at the staff because they do more with less. We're into portion control. Where we used to have a big portion, it's a smaller type portion now. We're also into client choice. We ask if they want their salad or not, if they want their beans or not. If they don't want it we don't serve it so we don't find it in the trash can."
Both Bean’s Café and Brother Francis staff said they’re glad they can be there for people in need, but hope fewer people will need the help as summer approaches.