Charlottesville Shelters Collaborate to Keep Homeless Warm

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As central Virginia reaches its lowest temperature of the season so far, many homeless people are forced to look for a roof to sleep under, but now area shelters are preparing to keep them warm.

With cooler weather coming, both PACEM (People And Congregations Engaged in Ministry) and the Salvation Army stay busier than normal - sometimes housing up to a dozen more people a night. But both shelters say they want to keep the homeless safe, even if it's just temporary.

"Even if it's just for a night it's the idea that they at least for that night were off the street out of the elements and out of the risk of freezing to death," said Jesse Boeckermann, program director for PACEM.

The latest Point-in-Time survey conducted by the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless shows there are 195 homeless people in the area.

The Salvation Army is a permanent shelter. PACEM, though, is a seasonal one, just now getting ready to open its doors this Saturday for its 22-week stint. During those winter months, PACEM averages nearly 50 people a night, and when its beds are full the Salvation Army is able to accommodate the people PACEM doesn't have room for.

"It's that kind of community collaboration and partnership that keeps everyone safe in our community," Boeckermann said.

The shelters say that it is important for you to keep an eye out especially during winter months, and if you see someone sleeping outside or under a bridge it's best to call the police or fire department so they can make it to a shelter for the night.