Below freezing temperatures tests some homeless shelters capacity

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On day five of below-freezing temperatures in Peoria, shelter staff say they will do anything they can to keep people indoors

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Escaping frigid temperatures with only the clothes on their backs and a few personal items is the problem the homeless community is being hit with right now.

Central Illinois is on day five of below-freezing temperatures, and Brian Butler, the Men’s Program Director at Peoria Rescue Ministries, said the organization will do anything it can to keep people indoors.

“With this cold streak that we are experiencing, we increased about a dozen more men a night,” Butler said.

Butler said freezing temperatures are testing the capacity of some homeless shelters. His shelter can only house about 80 men a night, and it is nearly hitting that limit.

“If they are showing up here in this kind of weather, we are going to do everything we can to keep them safe,” Butler said.

Kristy Schofield with Dream Center Peoria said its doors are open to the community 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Right now, Schoefield said Dream Center Peoria has more than enough space for families who are seeking shelter.

“We are low, low barrier so we take our population any time of day. We don’t want someone to be out in the cold and risk them dying in the cold,” she said.

The National Weather Service warns Central Illinois will likely see below-freezing temperatures through the middle of February. Those looking to help the homeless community can do so by directing them to warming centers, available shelters, and by donating winter gear.

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