As Temperatures Drop, Social Service Needs Increase
More using shelters, food pantries
ANCHORAGE - Carl Smith and his wife are two people you might find sleeping on the streets of Anchorage this winter.
“Anywhere we can find a place, under a tree,” said Smith outside of the Downtown Soup Kitchen.
Smith says being an Alaska Native, he’s used to the cold.
“I froze both my feet, both my feet, they wanted to cut them off,” he said.
The Smiths will be among hundreds using the Brother Francis shelter at some stage this winter.
Catholic Social Services Director Susan Bomalaski says the 30-day time limit placed on people during the summer has now been lifted.
“People on 30 days out can come into Brother Francis Shelter any night that the temperature is below 45 degrees,” said Bomalaski.
With more than 240 people seeking shelter, the overflow site is active.
“Which means the Brother Francis Shelter staff goes over to the Bean's Cafe building and uses that for the extra people,” said Bomalaski.
The homeless aren't the only ones who struggle as temperatures drop - as the heat gets turned on, utility bills go up and become a priority over food.
“There are many woman and they are sole providers of the family so they really need help,” said Sister Kati Kline at the Saint Francis House Food Pantry.
Kline says she also sees many people at the food pantry who have come from the lower 48 and are struggling with bills.
"Some people are coming up with hopes of finding a job but when they get here there's no work,” she said.
The food pantry helped 414 families last week and that number is expected to rise as the weather gets colder.