Madison’s homeless shelters found themselves over capacity this week as temperatures have continued to drop.
Once the temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, homeless shelters in Madison don’t turn anyone away excepting extreme circumstances. Shelters such as the Dane County Salvation Army and Beacon have found themselves searching for space since Monday’s overnight temperatures hit 15 degrees without windchill.
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Salvation Army shelter spokesperson Tara Barcia said that average capacity for the shelter is around 22 families, but with the extremely cold weather that number has increased. Monday night, Barcia said the Salvation Army shelter took in 28 families.
“We have the same amount of staff here every night even with the increase of families, so that means we’re using an increased amount of supplies,” Barcia said. “That means more towels, more linens, soaps, shampoos, more diapers for the kids … any supplies we have on hand have been increased over this time, so we’ve been doing what we can with what we have and looking for donations when people are willing.”
With more people in the shelters, resources are stretched thin and reliance on donations has become integral to meet the needs of everyone there.
Barcia said the shelter usually sees the greatest margin over average capacity immediately following the holiday season with the bitter cold and snow.
Without alternatives in shelter over the holiday, shelters such as Beacon were also pushed over capacity.