City of Dallas, Local Homeless Shelters, Faith-Based Groups Work to House Unsheltered Homeless during Freezing Overnight Temperatures

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DALLAS (WBAP/KLIF)- As temperatures are expected to drop below freezing tonight the City of Dallas, local homeless shelters and churches are making sure thousands of unsheltered homeless have a warm place to sleep.

“In Dallas, on any given night, there’s 10,000 homeless people when we only have 2,300 shelter beds so the vast majority have no place to go,” said Patrick Palmer with faith-based nonprofit outreach center, OurCalling. “From the rough weather we ay a 2 increase in death than we typically see,’ he sad.

While Mondays at OurCalling are typically reserved for Monday Night Football social-distanced gatherings, the outreach center will instead serve as a Welcome Center, the designated entry location for intake/assessment and triage for the City of Dallas’ inclement-weather and sheltering program.

OurCalling will alert thousands of homeless individuals in Dallas County using its proven Emergency Broadcast text-message system. They’ll also coordinate with the City, shelters and other faith-based organizations, using its “Bed Availability” software to help direct homeless individuals to safety.

The City of Dallas is providing 120 hotel rooms for inclement weather, and other shelters and religious organizations will be opening their doors to provide a haven from the dangerous weather. OurCalling, The Salvation Army, the Bridge and other local church partners cam together to get an additional hotel rooms tonight. The homeless will gather at OurCalling, then The Stewpot will drive and coordinate the Connector Bus and other volunteer church vans for transportation to the City’s hotel, shelters and partnering organizations.For now, OurCalling is planning to stay open all night. If the City is able to accommodate everyone, the staff and volunteers will go home.

“If they run out of rooms and people can’t get in, OurCalling will remain open to make sure our friends have a warm place to lay their heads,” said founder, CEO and Pastor Wayne Walker.

In November, the Dallas City Council approved a new inclement-weather policy for temporarily housing homeless people when cold or hot weather advisories are issued – 36 degrees or below overnight or above 90 degrees between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.The revised policy allows faith-based nonprofits, churches and other religious organizations to seek permits as temporary overnight shelters. However, at the last minute, the Council added an amendment to the policy that excludes organizations around and in Downtown Dallas – including OurCalling – from participating in the program.

Walker says if there’s not enough shelter options to accommodate the growing homeless population, which has dramatically increased since the pandemic, OurCalling will remain open – and will pay the City’s fine for violating the policy. The fine ranges from $500 to $2,000.

“This is not about zoning but is about disaster and emergency relief. A fine pales in comparison to the value of human life,” said Walker.

At OurCalling, guests will receive access to restrooms, a warm meal, water, electricity to charge their phones, case management, and safety/security of OurCalling staff and extra security officers.