SAN ANTONIO – An influx of people in need of a warm meal and bed has created a challenge for shelters to provide much-needed services as temperatures plunge and the threat of spreading the novel coronavirus lingers.
A combination of cold temperatures and rain is something area shelters, such as The Salvation Army, are very familiar with.
Brad Mayhar, public affairs manager for the Salvation Army in San Antonio, said the shelter could only accept 50 men in an area that used to fit 100 men and 21 women in an area of 50 beds.
The COVID-19 safety restrictions have changed the shelter’s overflow operation. Representatives have had to turn away several clients due to the limited space.
“It’s first-come, first-served. It is going to be more difficult to secure a bed this time of year because we’re at capacity and because of COVID,” Mayhar said.
Alternatives for those in need of a warm space for the next several days are still out there. Local organizations and church groups, such as Last Chance Ministries, have opened their doors to provide comfort during frigid nights.
Jamie Llamas, a community organizer with Last Chance Ministries, said she immediately planned to assist the community as soon as she heard the weather forecast.
Llamas said those who stay at the church look forward to it every year.
“These people are more comfortable coming in here, you know, falling asleep, knowing that somebody’s watching them and taking care of them,” Llamas said.
The Salvation Army will be giving away blankets and cold-weather gear to those it cannot accept in the shelter due to limited space.
Last Chance Ministries said it would be housing folks and providing shelter until the cold weather subsides.