By Camaron Abundes
MIDLAND- A hot plate and a warm bed is the standard at most shelters but at the Midland Salvation Army keeping up with the demand for beds is a challenge.
"It's heartbreaking when you have to tell someone we don't have any room for you," Captain Russ Keeney, who along with his wife Linda took over the Midland post this summer after seven years in Big Spring, said. "We're seeing a lot more people need shelter, a lot more people need meals."
Cpt. Keeney says with just 20 beds and 5 mattresses used in the dining area, they fill up fast.
"Our men's shelter is full right now and we put mattresses on the kitchen floor and when that space runs out we have no other choice, but to tell them we don't have a space for them," Captain Keeney, who says it happens almost every day, said.
"We did a comparison from July of 2007 to July of 2008 and the increase was 42 percent," he said that is the number of people they've helped. "People think because the oil is booming and that's great, but everything else is going up as well."
Cpt. Keeney says they do their best to cover everyone and when they run out of space he contacts other non-profit organizations to help the people he's turned away.
Along with the number of people using the shelter the bills for the shelter have also gone up by $2,800 dollars a month, according to Cpt. Keeney. They've also seen a spike in the number of families who can't afford their utility bills.
According to a recent mission study, emergency shelters are needed in the Midland area.
"That's why one of our goals is to start a shelter that can meet some of the needs in this community," he says, the shelter even though it's just in the first phases could be up and running in the next three years.