Local homeless shelters were full before snow fell, now overflowing
While some welcomed the first measurable snowfall Friday, for others winter weather is putting pressure on an already strained housing situation in Anchorage.
Staff at local homeless shelters say their facilities have been overflowing for weeks. Lisa Caldeira, program manager at the Brother Francis Shelter, said there was no room even before the snow fell.
“We have been at capacity pretty much for the last several months on and off, but we have been at capacity consistently for the last few weeks,” said Caldeira.
She said the shelter can sleep 240 people. When more women show up than the shelter can house, they are sent to the Downtown Soup Kitchen that has overflow space for 20 women.
Caldeira said local churches have been housing families when cold weather kicks in, but it’s been difficult finding space for single adults to sleep — particularly men.
A new overflow shelter set to open Saturday evening may help the situation. The building, which used to house programs for Anchorage Community Mental Health, is close to the Brother Francis Shelter and will have beds for 20 men to spend the night when the temperatures drop.
Anchorage’s homeless and housing coordinator Nancy Burke said the men’s overflow shelter would be put to good use, but it may not be enough. She estimated as many as 50 people might still not have a place to sleep.
Burke said the city is working hard to find temporary space, as well as permanent housing, for as many people as it can.
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