HAMPTON, Va. - Homeless shelters across the area opened for extra hours Friday and Saturday during the freezing temperatures and snow.
Matthew Stearn, executive director of HELP Inc. in Hampton, said they had to go to 24-hour operations over the weekend. He said they housed anywhere from 45-55 people per day during the winter weather at Zion Baptist.
He said any time high temperatures are below freezing, they see an uptick in clients, putting a strain on the organization.
“We keep our shelter open 24 hours a day, which adds another meal to the mix, we have to plan for another meal every day that we keep folks in, have to have staff and volunteers here every day that we have folks in, so it strains the resources here for our organization a little bit," Stearn said.
Stearn said overall their numbers are up for people needing services, with the average number of clients last year per day at 25-35 people. He said it's due to a number of reasons.
“We are almost double what we were seeing last year, I think last year there were a lot more resources in our area that were for people needing emergency shelter there were folks in hotels," Stearn said. "The eviction moratorium was still in place so some folks were just able to stay wherever they were and a lot of those resources just aren’t available at this point.”
He said one way local businesses can help is by providing a meal.
“If there’s a meal that we need for lunch it’s pretty easy for one of our local businesses to jump in and say you know we’ll provide a meal for 50 that takes a great burden off of us and certainly helps us out and keeps our homeless brothers and sisters fed,” Stearn said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness and needs help, contact the Housing Crisis Hotline at 757-587-4202.