MIDLAND - Almost 7,000 people have looked to The Salvation Army for shelter in 2014. This new year, the organization is starting off strong with numbers higher than in recent months.
The last few days have been below freezing, which has caused many people to look for shelter. The Salvation Army is lending a helping hand by allowing the homeless to stay in their dorms during these cold winter days.
"Get them warm, get them fed, get them comfortable, that's priority right there," Mike Holland, Shelter Manager for The Salvation Army of Midland, said.
"If it wasn't for this place, I wouldn't have anywhere to go and eat but I do have a place to rest my head now and I don't have to be out at 7:00 in the morning and stay out in the freezing weather. It's cold," temporary Salvation Army resident, Joe, said.
During warmer months, The Salvation Army releases their guests at 7:00 a.m., but during harsh weather, its too cold to leave them out on the street.
"Normal check-in is between 5:00 and 9:00 p.m., those are the actual shelter hours. On an emergency basis, however, the rules change, they change drastically," Holland said.
The number of people checking into the shelter also increases during extreme weather conditions but due to understaffing, they are only allowed to take in a set number of people.
"Last night, we were at 58 and 34 of those were from cold weather," Holland said.
On nights where the temperature gets to below freezing, The Salvation Army allows people to come in for shelter 24-hours a day, as long as the weather is under 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
"We don't normally call a cold weather night until 7:00 p.m. to try to get the regular clients we have in the building. But we call at 7:00 and they can stay in depending on what happens the next morning with the weather. Like today, not because it was the first of the year, but because of the weather, the shelter did not close," Holland said.