Austin homeless shelters prepare for freezing weather: ‘It’s going to be dire’

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the more than 2,500 people experiencing homelessness in Austin, the freezing cold weather predicted for the end of the week is cause for concern.

Those living outdoors will need to find a warm place to stay — failing to do so could lead to serious health issues.

“It’s going to be dire,” said Salvation Army Communications Manager Jason Whaley. “I really hope that people out there that are experiencing homelessness know it’s going to be really dangerously cold.”

The Salvation Army downtown shelter has cut capacity in half due to the pandemic. Despite that, Whaley said it won’t turn away families in need.

“We understand how to pivot, and we have other spaces available,” Whaley said.

Whaley said the pandemic has forced shelters throughout Austin to better coordinate to make sure there’s enough space for anyone who needs it.

In addition to reduced capacity, new safety measures include:

  • Temperature checks
  • Masks worn at all times
  • Social distancing
  • Reduced volunteer opportunities
  • More hand sanitizing stations

Whaley said it’s critical that people, whether they’re on their own or with family, seek out help early.

“Don’t risk your children getting hypothermia or some horrible physical problem due to the cold temperatures,” he said.

A list of resources for people seeking services can be found here.

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