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Shelters prepare for early frigid temperatures

Posted at 6:43 PM, Nov 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-12 05:48:31-05

LANSING, Mich. — The coldest high temperature on record for Nov. 12 is 29 degrees and that was back in 1995.

Because Tuesday could be even colder, shelters are expecting to be busier than normal.

At seven months pregnant, Betty Ann Stanfill is especially grateful for a place to stay warm.

"If I didn't have anywhere to go, I would probably be sitting outside or trying to find somewhere warm, sitting in the hospital," Stanfill said.

The City Rescue Mission's Outreach Center was busy Monday, and as temperatures go down, the shelter fills up.

It opened in January, just before temperatures plunged.

It was designed to help those who are homeless and struggle from addiction or mental illness.

"The Outreach allows people who can't go to shelter, or refuse to go to shelter, to have a place to stay," Mark Criss, executive director of City Rescue Mission of Lansing, said.

About 50 people stay there every night, even in the warmer weather.

"I thought maybe 18 people would be a busy night. I did not dream that the need was as big as it was," Criss said.

This week, they're planning for about 70.

"We expect the numbers to grow a little bit as people know where to go and they know they can come here for help. So we try to get people transitioned into shelter, into housing from The Outreach," Criss said.

Criss said last winter, there were no cold-related deaths. He hopes to keep that number at zero this winter now that people have another place to go.

"Our goal is to keep people safe and we're thankful that we have this facility. We're thankful to the community that allows us to make this happen because a couple of years ago, this was not available. So we're excited to be able to meet this need," Criss said.

For veterans, homelessness is also an issue.

In fact, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were about 700 homeless veterans in Michigan back in 2018.

In Lansing, there is help however. Veterans can get help at the New Hope Community Center.

At the center, they provide transitional housing and help veterans with finding jobs.

The Outreach also said they have some veterans come in their shelter, but staff says they don't see very many.

"Most of our veterans, we work with different organizations to get them out of homelessness, off the streets, into housing. We have a lot of good resources for veterans. Most of our veterans are safe either in shelter or in housing so we're very thankful for that," Criss said.

For a list of resources click here and here.

For more information on the City Rescue Mission of Lansing, click here.

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