OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The weather conditions the Sooner State is facing are particularly dangerous and in some cases deadly for Oklahomans experiencing homelessness.
There are many resources and warm locations, though, open to help.
“For our people experiencing homelessness and everybody else in the community,” said Dan Straughan, Executive Director of The Homeless Alliance. “It’s going to be a really rough weekend.”
It’s all hands on deck this weekend to provide shelter and save lives.
The Homeless Alliance is working with the City of Oklahoma City – opening the old Willard School to serve as an overnight shelter.
In addition to the homeless alliance, the Red Andrews Gym is also open as a day shelter for the next week.
The Red Cross will provide food and drinks.
EMBARK will be providing free rides between the locations.
“Even though it’s only three blocks, three blocks in five-degree weather with a foot and a half of snow on the ground is a challenge,” Straughn said. “So we’re really thankful for EMBARK providing that service.”
Though we are in an ongoing pandemic, the Homeless Alliance says it will be loosening some COVID-19 capacity restrictions.
“You have to weigh the risk of exposure to the virus against the almost certain risk of someone being outside for an hour on Saturday night and losing some toes or – God forbid – dying of hypothermia,” Straughn said. “That happened last night in Tulsa, a couple of blocks from their emergency shelter.”
Most warming centers throughout the metro will require and do their best to distribute masks.
Many faith leaders are also reaching out to find ways to provide shelter and resources.
Some businesses and outreach groups are doing the same – including We The People Consulting, near 23rd and Harvey in OKC.
“I’m actually in cultural hub right now, you can see right behind me,” said Chelsey Branham with We the People. “This space is open along with a few others and we also are going to be opening up Tribe Gym for overnight and through the weekend as well.”
Most places will be allowing pets this weekend – knowing many without shelter would risk their lives to stay with their furry friends.
“I know that there’s been a lot of community members that have walked up on people that are not in good shape because they’re having to stay outside and when you don’t have a whole lot – your pets are really important and the few items you have are really important,” Branham said.
If you see someone outside who needs help, contact the city or the police department.
In the northern part of the state – according to “Ponca City Now,” the Rose Stone Inn will provide available rooms and basement space for those who need a warm spot to get some rest.
They need sleeping gear, packaged food and water, and personal care items, but they are not accepting financial donations.
They ask you drop off donations at the front desk.
The inn is located at 120 South Third Street and the front doors are always open.