Freezing Temperatures Raise Concerns For County’s Homeless Population

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NC — County officials say protocol guidelines for opening a warming station and/or additional overnight shelters have not been met following an Emergency Management conference call Tuesday.

Photo via MeckNC.gov

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services participated in the call today as the County prepares for more freezing temperatures in the coming days.

The criteria below must be met before activating a warming station/emergency shelter:

  • A sustained wind chill factor of 10 degrees for one full day (24 hours)
  • No adequate bed space is available within existing sheltering programs (Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, Salvation Army Center of Hope, Room in the Inn, etc.)
  • Existing overnight sheltering is unable to accommodate influx of persons requiring overnight sheltering
  • Environmental conditions that contribute to prolonged health risks
  • An increase in call volume by 20 percent to 911 centers, or an increase in calls for assistance to service agencies. Unless the calls to 911 centers are specific to cold weather issues, the 20-percent increase guideline may not provide the data required for activation. To counter this possibility, an increase in the volume of calls or gathering of people needing weather-related assistance at social service agencies, can be used as a trigger point for activation.

Officials say that currently, the guidelines have not been met in terms of temperature/wind chill, 911 and emergency room calls related to cold weather, lack of capacity at the existing shelters. Because of this, County officials say there are no plans to open a warming station at this time, but conditions will be monitored daily.

In the meantime, the following steps have been taken to help people who are experiencing homelessness:

  • The Men’s Shelter of Charlotte (N. Tryon and Statesville Road locations) have added additional mats and cots to increase capacity. Both shelters have been able to accommodate all requests for shelter and still have mats and cots available. Most restriction criteria for admission to the shelters have been waived during the severe cold weather period.
  • Room in the Inn (managed by the Urban Ministry Center) coordinated emergency shelter beds with dozens of local churches who also provided additional beds.
  • Urban Ministry Center agreed to open their facilities for guests during the cold weather period.
  • The Salvation Army Center of Hope Women’s Shelter has increased their capacity and is accepting guests who are in need of shelter.
  • The Urban Ministry Center Outreach Team monitors and visit about 50 homeless persons in camps and outdoor situations. Most of them agreed to come in to the shelters over the past few days. Sleeping bags and warmers were provided for those who refused to come to the shelters.

Emergency Management will continue to monitor the changing conditions and provide updates as needed.