OKLAHOMA CITY — With temperatures already in the single digits and low teens, the City of Oklahoma City and other organizations are preparing to offer shelter from the killing cold.
City governments and organizations that work with the homeless are especially concerned because the same weather is expected to continue for the next week through Saturday, Feb. 20.
And, the cold weather is believed to have already taken a deadly toll on the homeless.
A man in his 70s was found dead in his sleeping bag in downtown Tulsa Thursday. The Tulsa Police Department believes he died from exposure to the cold.
UPDATED — All shelter information was last updated 2-17-21 at 8 a.m.
The latest opening of a day warming center was announced Thursday for the gym at Red Andrews Park near St. Anthony Hospital at 720 NW 8th Street.
It opened Friday and will be open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day through Friday, Feb. 19.
According to Kristy Yager, spokesperson for the City, the gym will be staffed with employees from the Parks and Recreation Department. The American Red Cross of Oklahoma will provide coffee, water, and snacks.
“Well over one thousand people are homelessness in Oklahoma City on any given day,” said the City’s homeless program planner Jerod Shadid. “We need to offer safe, socially distanced places for people to take refuge from the cold.”
The Oklahoma City Homeless Alliance will have their day shelter open at its Westtown campus at 1729 NW 3rd from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. seven days per week throughout the storm for people who are unhoused. Pets are welcome. No ID is required.
Beginning Monday, We The People Consulting, LLC (301 SW 23rd) will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (limited capacity).
Joe’s Addiction (1725 SE 59th) will be open 24-hrs/day.
OKC Dream Center (2212 SW 55th) will be open 24-hrs/day through 2 pm Friday, February 19.
Crossroads Church (8901 S. Shields) will be open 24-hrs/day through the storm.
EMBARK bus service is providing free bus rides to the warming centers and shelters.
According to Homeless Alliance Executive Director Dan Straughan, the number of beds available for overnight sheltering has dropped from 900 before the pandemic to 600 because of the need for distancing.
The NE Community Center (3815 N Kelley) will be open 24-hrs/day.
Tribe Gym (6710 N Classen) will be open 24-hrs/day, until Monday morning.
Green Pastures Studio will open beginning Sunday night (4300 N Post Rd, Spencer) from 6 p.m. to 8 am.
The Salvation Army (1001 N Penn Ave.) will be providing winter shelter for women + children 24/7 throughout the storm.
Sisu Youth Services (3131 N. Pennsylvania) will be providing shelter to people under the age of 22, 24/7 until Friday.
A new overnight shelter, Willard Winter Shelter, has been opened recently in the former Willard Elementary School between NW 2nd and 3rd streets on N. McKinley. Hours are 3 p.m to 7 a.m. Pets are welcome. No ID is required. They will use 150 cots and safely distance people who stay. If they reach capacity those in need will be transported to other facilities.
The Willard Winter Shelter is provided through a partnership between the Mental Health Association Oklahoma, the Homeless Alliance, and the City of Oklahoma City.
The City Council designated the shelter as a temporary winter shelter only and will close March 31.
The Salvation Army, City Rescue Mission, Jesus House, Grace Rescue Mission, Sisu Youth, and Pivot all provide some form of overnight shelter but are at or very near capacity already.
The organizations that work year-round to address homelessness depend on contributions and need your help. Please donate as you can. The donation link for the OKC Homeless Alliance is https://homelessalliance.org/?page_id=1191.
Sustain our journalism by becoming a supporter
Oklahoma City Free Press is dedicated to providing high quality journalism that positively impacts our community. Click this linkto support our mission.
Last Updated February 17, 2021, 8:04 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor