With a big winter blast headed to Texoma
the Wichita Falls Faith Mission is working hard to make sure they're ready for more people seeking shelter. Faith Mission has already started preparations.
That start began with changes to the amount of time someone seeking shelter can stay. Normally clients of the shelter are allowed to stay for a maximum of ten days. After that period they must leave the shelter for the following 30 days, but starting Tuesday that rule will not be enforced. So for those reaching that deadline, or in that 30 day period when you're not at the shelter, you will be able to return or stay longer during the extreme cold weather.
"We don't want anybody staying out on the streets or in cold car's. They don't need to do that, we'll wave that at both Faith Refuge and Faith mission, said Vicky Payne, Director of Marketing and Development at Faith Mission.
If someone is seeking shelter at Faith, you must have some type of photo identification. The Mission uses this to check backgrounds and assign that person to a shelter. However, in an extreme cold situation exceptions are made.
Although the shelter is preparing for an increased amount of people, the homeless population has actually decreased in Wichita Falls compared to last year, according to a study conducted by the Homeward Bound Homeless Coalition. In 2013 roughly 221 people in Wichita Falls were counted as homeless, but in 2014 only 197 were reported.
However, while the overall number has dropped, a certain area of homelessness has not. Women and children seeking shelter in Wichita Falls has increased in 2014.
"Faith Refuge has never been at capacity in the individual dorm side. They've been way over capacity in their mom with children side," said Payne.
But even though that area is past capacity Payne said that will not keep the Refuge from opening their doors to those in need. While the shelter makes room for sleeping accommodations officials said the increase in people will bring with it the need for more food.
"We are trying to stock our food pantry with food. Usually you serve a greater number of people for meals in the cold weather," said Payne.
The Mission and Refuge relies heavily on donations. Payne said both shelters need more donations in canned goods, especially vegetables.
The shelter isn't only for the homeless in Wichita Falls. They are also opening their clothing closet to provide winter coats to anyone in the city that lives below the poverty line.
Their goal is to help everyone in the community and make sure nobody goes cold in the winter.
The Faith Mission is also giving out vouchers to those that qualify. If someone isn't able to find a coat at the Mission they will receive a voucher to use to the Faith Mission Resale Shop.