Salvation Army Preps for Storm

By Camaron Abundes
NewsWest 9

ODESSA- Cold weather always brings more people to the Salvation Army's Mabee Red Shield Lodge, but this year their numbers are way up, with people you might not expect asking for beds.

"We've never seen them go up like we have seen them this year," said Sgt. Jay Ward, with the Odessa branch of the Salvation Army, "Capacity of the shelter is 30, that means you have 26 people on cots and air mattresses, and we're really reaching capacity for how many we can safely house, in the shelter."

Wednesday night they expect to trump Tuesday's numbers, with more than sixty people expected to show up and ask for a warm bed.

"We may have to look at housing people in the gym or on the dining room floor. Just wherever we can put them so they don't spend the night out in the cold weather," Sgt. Ward, said.

But at the shelter there is another factor contributing to higher numbers, the profile of the homeless has changed.

"There is no typical homeless person anymore," Sgt. Ward said, "It used to be the alcoholic or the person with mental illness, you could spot sleeping on the street or in the dumpster. It's just not like that anymore."

Ward points to poor housing in Odessa as the main reason for the change.

"They're hard working individuals a lot of times that can not find affordable housing," Ward said.

Thursday, if the weather gets bad the Lodge will remain open all day. They're asking for donations of blankets and winter coats to help offset the rise in their numbers.