By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- The Midland Salvation Army is the only emergency overnight shelter in the Tall City that accepts men, women and children. Currently, visitors need walk up a staircase to access to the dining room and the dormitory where all the beds are kept. However, that's impossible for some people in wheelchairs.
Midland Salvation Army's Captain Tex Ellis has been well-aware of the situation, but says the Salvation Army purchased the shelter back in the 1960's, before the Americans with Disabilities Act came about.
"We try to do everything that we possibly can and there's a lot we can do. There's just that one [issue] that's a hurdle for us," Ellis said.
He says they'll never turn anyone away.
"We have had people stay in our lobby during cold weather and extreme weather situations and [other] extreme situations," Ellis said.
The Midland Salvation Army is planning to build a new wheelchair-accessible shelter, but they're still in the process of trying to purchase the land. They will not break ground on the new facility until next spring, at the earliest.
The Midland County Sheriff's Office's Crisis Intervention Unit (C.I.U.) says this problem will inevitably become more visible as population grows and continues to age.
"We're seeing elderly people that cannot afford to pay for an apartment or even try to find a place to stay because of the amounts that they have to pay for now," C.I.U.'s Gabriela Williams, said.
The C.I.U. says the Midland Victorian Inn is the only place that works with them to help house people in wheelchairs who are seeking emergency overnight shelter.
"But, what's going to happen when [they] run out of rooms or when the Victorian Inn can't accommodate us because of the over abundance of people?" Williams said.
"In Midland, we're growing so fast. There's issues like this and many others that we're going to have to stop and address and find out how we can best serve those populations," Ellis said.
"We want the community to come together. We want them to tell us, 'You know what? We want to help. We can do this. It's not that difficult," Williams said.
The Midland County C.I.U. and the Midland Salvation Army are asking for the community's suggestions regarding potential hotel providers that can assist with accommodations or community centers that can house people.
Midland Salvation Army: (432) 683-3614