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The number of options for people seeking day warming shelter and/or overnight shelter have changed as of the end of Friday, February 19.

The extreme crisis of zero temperatures and sub-zero wind chills is over for the time being but organizations realize that there is still a need for day and overnight shelter.

The new listing of shelters starting Friday night are AT THE BOTTOM of this report.

It was generated Friday afternoon, February 19 by Jerod Shadid, homeless program planner for the City of Oklahoma City and staff of the Oklahoma City Homeless Alliance.

Free EMBARK bus rides to shelters ended Friday.

Demand continues

During a video news conference Friday afternoon Shadid reported that there were still over 200 people seeking overnight shelter at the Willard Winter Shelter Thursday night.

The Willard Winter Shelter will continue to operate continuously until March 31. An agreement with the neighbors was that the shelter would not be year-round, but only meet overnight shelter needs through the winter.

And, the Homeless Alliance will continue to open its Westtown campus Day Shelter year-round as they have done in the past.

Peak night

While the lives of the unhoused were in peril several nights in a row, one good thing about the need for outreach to get the unhoused out of the cold was the new contacts that will allow assistance in moving toward permanent shelter for some.

“At our peak, we had about 400 people one night, and that’s between shelters, hotel rooms and small facilities,” Shadid said in the news conference.

“They actually got about 90 people in the hotel rooms and a lot of those people were people we have not contacted before,” he continued. “And a lot of them did housing assessments, which means we’ll be able to connect them to permanent housing.”

Long-term problems

Temporary measures no doubt saved lives during the week of killing temperatures in the City.

But, Shadid said that many of the problems the unhoused were experiencing were likely long-term.

“It looks like most people we served this week were unhoused prior to the storm, not as a result of it,” Shadid told Free Press in a message Friday. “Going forward, everyone is worried about evictions due to Covid related unemployment.”

“I would imagine higher than usual utility bills resulting from people dealing with this week’s weather isn’t going to help matters any. A lot of people were already having to make a choice between keeping the lights on and paying the rent,” said Shadid.

Last Updated February 19, 2021, 6:45 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor