“This is certainly a life or death scenario”: Hope Center’s warming shelter serves 157 homeless people after Thursday’s snowfall

Vogel says they plan to keep their temporary warming shelter open as long as there's snow on the ground.

LEXINGTON, Ky (WTVQ)- With the temperatures dropping below freezing Friday night, the roads aren’t the only concern.
The plummeting temperatures  also impact the homeless, who seek out shelter.

“This is certainly a life or death scenario. If you’re experiencing homeless and you’re out in the elements for too long, it can be a real problem,” said Katie Vogel, the Director of Development for the Hope Center.

It’s one of several Lexington nonprofits that have opened up a shelter to serve the areas homeless population, a service especially needed after snow and bitter cold temperatures.

“Our teams try to get ahead of weather. They are always tracking the temperatures in addition to the numbers. And see our numbers in that temporary shelter track exactly with the weather,” Vogel said.

Vogel says from the months of December to March, the center organizes a temporary warming station to accommodate an increase in those needing shelter from the cold.
That’s in addition to their 24 hour a day emergency shelter.

“So if the temperatures drop, we are gonna see more clients there. When it’s wet, when i’ts windy, and then especially when its really snowy and cold like this,” Vogel said.

The max capacity of the temporary shelter holds is 50. On Thursday, organizers had to rearrange the shelter to fit 58. That’s in addition to the emergency shelter’s 99 homeless.

The weather isn’t without other challenges. Staffing is needed to around the clock.
The snow also hinders the center’s Hope Mobile.

“It presents a challenge when weather like this rolls in. As we all know, there’s been a lot of transportation issues because of this weather. And we are not immune to that. Our hope mobile is really not equipped for weather like this,” Vogel said.

Inside the shelter, COVID procedures are in place to protect the homeless, as well as the staff.

“In our temporary warming shelter, we keep a distance between the cots. And then we ask our clients to wear masks when they’re moving around,” Vogel said.

Vogel says they plan to keep their temporary warming shelter open as long as there’s snow on the ground.

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