Cold weather shelters open across Austin for the homeless

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin activated its cold weather shelters Monday night, with temperatures dropping into 30s and freezing rain in some spots.

The criteria for activating the shelters are temperatures falling below 35 degrees wet and 32 degrees dry, according to Austin’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management office.

Two churches and a recreation center were opened to provide warm spots for people to sleep. Capital Metro began busing people to the temporary shelters at 5 p.m. Monday evening.Those spots are also intended to help clear out room at the ARCH downtown.

“So if someone comes in at midnight or 1 o’clock and says, ‘Hey, I can’t do this. I need a place,’ we can accommodate.”

In South Austin, Oak Hill Methodist Church opened its doors for homeless people camping in the southern and southwestern parts of town.

Those shelter efforts are organized by the Oak Hill Community Alliance, a coalition of 20 churches, the Travis County Constable’s Office and others last year.

“We saw a need for a cold weather shelter in our area,” said Travis County Precinct 3 Constable Stacy Suits. “We figured it would be better for them, it’d be easier for them to take care of them here rather than shipping them downtown to be shipped back out, and it would also give us a chance to establish relationships and have people in this area and the homeless to get to know each other and understand each other’s needs and concerns.”

Constable Suits directed his deputies to go out to camps and invite people to the church.

People will be sent out during the day when it warms up Tuesday, but both the Oak Hill Methodist Church shelter and those downtown will be open again Tuesday night.

Additionally, the New Braunfels Police Department also announced that they will be opening their cold weather shelters tonight. The New Braunfels shelter is located at the Gruene United Methodist Church and is open from 5:30 p.m. Monday to 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

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