NEW ORLEANS – Bitterly cold weather, especially at night makes a dangerous situation for the homeless.
The Salvation Army is just one of several shelters open.
“We’re way below what our potential is. It’s not because no one is coming, it’s because we have to limit the number that can be in our shelter,” said Major Christopher Thornhill, area commander for the Salvation Army.
He says COVID-19 has changed how they operate, but they’re already having discussions on how they’ll pivot when a vaccine becomes available.
“We’ve had discussions on how can we safely expand our capacity and ability to shelter while keeping social distaning guidelines in place, safe ppe and all of our protocols,” Thornhill said.
The Ozanam Inn is facing similar challenges because of the state’s guidelines.
At the Ozanam Inn, when the city calls on more shelters, the cafeteria is completely transformed. The tables are cleared out and they usually setup 30 cots, but because of COVID-19, they can only setup 15.
“It’s quite a bit different we have cut back the number of beds to make sure they are at least six feet apart,” said Clarence Adams, CEO of the Ozanam Inn.
Adams says in the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 took a toll on his shelter, but like most places, the shelter is doing the best it can to slow the spread.
“We require everyone who comes in to have their temperature taken and they must wear a mask to come into the building, they must have the mask on at all times. The only time they can take it off is if they’re showering, eating or sleeping,” Adams said.
Both shelters say they have room and they’re ready to serve.
“Sleeping in a cot in a nice warm place is better than being out on the concrete in the freezing weather,” Adams said.
Ozanam Inn is also planning to begin construction on a new facility in the coming weeks and will be able to also shelter women. We’re told the new shelter will be 50% larger and should be complete in mid-2021.
The Salvation Army also sells tokens of hope.
You can buy one token for $10 to give to someone in need. Each token offers two meals and a night’s stay at the Center of Hope shelter. Tokens can be purchased at the Salvation Army building on Claiborne Avenue.