PACEM working to meet shelter demand

Published: Dec. 26, 2022 at 2:45 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - There is a growing need for warm shelters for people in and around Charlottesville.

Even before these last few very cold days, PACEM says it has been busy.

“We actually got a bit of an alert going back to a week ago,” PACEM Executive Director Jayson Whitehead said.

That alert came in the form of dozens of people showing up in need of a warm place to sleep.

“This is before even the cold snap. We had 40 individuals show up for basically 25 spots last Monday [December 19] at our shelter, so that actually ended up being a positive in the sense that we had to really start being creative around where were we going to be able to find places for folks to stay and it got us prepared for that, like five, six-degree days that we had Thursday or Friday,” Whitehead said.

Temperatures got as low as -6 degrees early Saturday, Dec. 24.

“When you look at the wind - we call it the wind chill, the feels-like temperature - it feels like it’s -4 in Charlottesville when you combine the wind,” NBC29 Meteorologist Josh Fitzpatrick said on Saturday morning.

The freezing temperatures put shelters over their limit.

“We actually went over capacity at our congregant’s site by about six or seven beds,” Whitehead said. “We also partner with our local Salvation Army; they also have overflow capacity.”

Whitehead says everyone had a place to stay. Moving forward, he says PACEM houses around 30 people at night in the shelter, and around 50 at Premier Circle.

“We do anticipate it being a busy season,” Whitehead said. “We are in active discussions with other community partners about trying to open up additional spaces.”

PACEM is also looking for a host site for the last two weeks of the seasonal shelter.

“There’s a lot of creative thinking and, hopefully, options coming along in the new year,” Whitehead said.

PACEM says it is working with Charlottesville and hopes to have more overflow space in the coming weeks.

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