Indianapolis shelter sees high numbers as cold weather moves in

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. —The winter weather impacts people in different ways. For some, when the roads have snow and ice on them, it makes them very treacherous to be on. As the temperature drops, the roads become even worse. For some Hoosiers, their biggest concern is finding warmth from the bitter cold.

Indianapolis Department of Public Works is preparing for the colder temperatures to make the roads icy, so they will have 80 plow trucks out through Monday morning laying salt. This weekend alone they used 2,800 tons of salt.

“We will still be focusing primarily on thoroughfares and secondary streets; that is our primary focus, just to make sure the most people can get through the commute on the way to work,” DPW Spokesperson Ben Easley said.

Most of Indianapolis’ main roads are easy for drivers to manage.

“The amount of snow that was expected was a little bit higher than what we actually got. We saw about two inches of snow fall on the pavement throughout the county,” Easley said.

The colder temperatures are going to make roads very slick, but DPW is equipped to handle it. People staying at Wheeler Mission are unable to, which is why the shelter is seeing a high number of homeless people stay overnight.

439 people slept at Wheeler Mission’s men shelter Saturday night. “To put it into perspective, we have 298 permanent beds in this facility,” Wheeler Mission Chief Development Officer Steve Kerr said.

The rest were given mats to sleep on and a hot meal. Wheeler Mission’s women and children’s shelter saw 91 people come in, and it was a record number.

“I know there’s still some homeless on the streets, and it’s our greatest desire they would come inside,” Kerr said.

Kerr knows people sleeping on mats isn’t the best, but it’s a warm place. For people here, they’re not looking at a glass half empty.  Without this place, many wouldn’t survive living on the streets during the harsh Indiana winters.

“I have a lot of medical problems, and I wouldn’t be able to make it out there as cold as it is right now,” visitor William Holt said.

“This is not new to us, but it still is shocking. I came in and saw the numbers. I’m just overwhelmed by the number of men we are seeing here,” Kerr said.

Kerr said emergency warming centers in Indianapolis open up when it reaches -15 degrees or when city officials deem it too cold. Several other places will open up as a warming center.

Wheeler Mission is always open and will take anyone who needs a place to escape the cold weather at night.

They have a men’s shelter located at 20 E Market St, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

Their women and children’s shelter is located at 3208 E Michigan St, Indianapolis, IN 46201.

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