First temporary weather shelter opens in Dallas – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

With temperatures expected to drop into the 1920s overnight, they could be life threatening for the growing number of people with no place to live.

Homelessness in Dallas and Collin counties is at record highs.

But more and more doors are starting to open in Dallas thanks to an ordinance finally implemented.

The city’s temporary weather shelter program allows organizations to apply for a permit to open when the temperature is forecast by the National Weather Service to be 36 degrees in wet weather and 32 degrees in dry weather for three hours. or more.

So far, Oaklawn United Methodist Church is the only approved organization.

Reverend Rachel Baughman says she began opening church doors five years ago after a woman froze to death at a bus stop near another church in Dallas.

Since then, she has worked with the City of Dallas and homeless advocates to create a weather emergency plan.

“We were made to love our neighbor. We are made to take care of each other. It’s very basic for me, ”Reverend Baughman said.

An ordinance allowing the opening of temporary shelters in winter was passed in 2019 but, due to the pandemic, was first used last weekend when temperatures fell below freezing.

“We were able to come together very efficiently and provide shelter to over 500 people,” said Cristine Crossley, director of the City of Dallas Homeless Solutions Office.

The program allows shelters to receive help from the City of Dallas when they open for things like staffing for COVID-19 testing.

Every person who walks through the door is tested for COVID-19 using PCR tests. Results usually take days, but at the shelter, they are processed within minutes.

70 cots were made ahead of Thursday night’s cold snap, but Reverend Baughman said no one would be turned down.

She says she hopes other organizations apply to become shelters.

Crossley said a few others are working on submitting nominations, but none have yet.

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