It's still summer but some in Washtenaw County are already looking ahead to the challenges winter poses for the homeless community. The Washtenaw Housing Alliance and the county's Office of Community and Economic Development are trying to find a location suitable to serve as a warming center for homeless people.
Last winter's harsh weather caused by the polar vortex led to a spike in homeless individuals seeking overnight shelter. Amanda Carlisle from the Washtenaw Housing Alliance says for much of the winter the Delonis Homeless Shelter operated over-capacity to ensure nobody was left out in the cold.
Carlisle is looking for space in a church or other facility that could be used for 50 people to sleep on mats overnight. It needs to be about 1500 square feet and would ideally be located in the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti corridor or near public transit. "It makes it a little bit more difficult when we're out in kind of a rural area to get people, you know, there and back and to the resources that are needed to help folks who are homeless, but we're really trying to, you know, look anywhere that's available," Carlisle says.
Carlisle also hopes to find a location for a daytime warming center.
She says the space might sit empty if this winter isn't as harsh, but they want to be better prepared to meet the needs of the area's homeless this year. The warming center likely will be open from January to the end of March.