As weather forecasters this week announced their grim New Year’s predictions of freezing temperatures accompanied by possible icy precipitation for North Texas, folks at the Day Resource Center in Fort Worth went into emergency overtime mode.
The Day Resource Center, the county’s first day shelter for the homeless, wasn’t designed to provide residential or overnight accommodations for those needing shelter.
But this year, in cooperation with the city of Fort Worth, the center has been chosen to operate an emergency overflow night shelter during the winter months, providing overnight comfort for those unable to get into facilities operated by the three permanent shelters.
Although there are homeless people who choose to remain on the street regardless of the weather, there are times when conditions are so horrid that even some of the most reluctant choose the indoors instead of their usual perch on sidewalks, under bridges or in the wooded areas of the city. When that happens, the regular shelters can’t take all of those in need.
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Last year, there were 23 days when weather caused an overflow, meaning the city had to find alternatives for those seeking shelter from the cold, Day Resource Executive Director Bruce Frankel told the Star-Telegram Editorial Board.
As it turned out, despite the chilling temperatures this week, the nightly bed census at the existing shelters showed there was no need to open up additional space, Frankel said.
But in November there were four days when an overflow facility was needed, and Frankel said there are sure to be more days this winter when that service is required.
When more space is necessary to handle the overflow this winter, the Day Resource Center will use the Bertha Collins Community Center near the East Lancaster Avenue area where many homeless receive help.
On bitterly cold nights, city workers will pick up homeless individuals and take them to the recreation building, where they can spend the night. The following morning, they will be taken to other shelters where they can get breakfast.
The community center has enough cots, Frankel said. What is needed are more blankets that will be given to the homeless for use on any given night, and others for them to keep for use on the streets.
He said the Fort Worth Police Department and a Southlake church have made major contributions toward that effort, but more blankets will be needed over the winter.
Join the Day Resource Center’s “Blanket Parade,” by donating blankets at 1415 E. Lancaster Ave., between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday or 1 to 3 p.m. Sundays.
The center also collects other cold-weather gear such as coats, hats, gloves and scarfs for distribution during the day.