Unusually cold weather and the recession have increased the number of people served by The Salvation Army Center of Hope homeless shelter. In January, the number of meals served was 45 percent higher than Jan. 2008. In February, it was 27 percent higher than in Feb. 2008. The number of overnight stays increased 39 percent in January and 27 percent in February. A record was broken when 378 people stayed at the shelter Feb. 24.
“This is scary,” said Arletta Robinson, director of the Center of Hope.” I’ve been here 24 years and I’ve never seen anything like it. On average, we’re feeding about 1,000 people a day, with the same kitchen and the same number of staff members we’ve always had. We’re stretched to the limit but I’m thankful we’re still able to accommodate our guests and give them three hot meals a day.”
Robinson said the Center of Hope never turns anyone away, especially in extreme weather. “Even if a person has caused trouble here before, we let them stay and just keep a close eye on them. We call the extreme cold ‘killer cold’ because it will kill a person if they stay out in it.”