With temperatures dipping below 45 degrees in Gainesville this week, more homeless residents have a place to stay on cold nights.
To help these residents, the city, Alachua County and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funded a cold night shelter program in local shelters. This allows two shelters, St. Francis House and GRACE Marketplace, to increase their overnight bedspace and meals to local homeless residents, said Lauri Schiffbauer, the interim executive director at St. Francis House.
The program began at least 10 years ago, Schiffbauer said. The program’s resources allow 35 additional residents to stay overnight, get food, bedding and laundry and case management services. Resources are arranged when temperatures are expected to drop below 45 degrees.
Residents in need of the program should check in between 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. to be able to stay overnight. Schiffbauer added that the shelters have been filled to capacity each night of this week’s program.
“I certainly think it benefits the homeless community,” she said.
This week’s low temperatures started just before midnight Sunday. Higher temperatures will return Wednesday morning, said Kip Bricker, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service Forecast office in Jacksonville.
St. Francis House is located at 413 S. Main St. in downtown Gainesville. GRACE Marketplace is located at 3055 NE 28th Ave.
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A group of passengers wearing heavy jackets and long pants board a Regional Transit System bus on Newell Drive on Monday, Jan. 9, 2017. At the time, the temperature was already in the mid-50s and predicted to drop later that night.