As Texas endured a second day of freezing temperatures, hundreds of people who live in the streets sought live-saving refuge in emergency shelters.
In Texas' largest cities, homeless shelters and warming stations are experiencing high demand, although advocates say there’s still enough capacity to ensure no one will be turned away.
“We are very concerned about those people that won’t come in,” pastor Wayne Walker, CEO of the Dallas-based organization Our Calling, told the Tribune. “Street outreach teams have been driving, finding people in the woods, and police are still bringing people.”
According to Walker, a sheltering space at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas received 650 people Monday night. In Houston, the emergency shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center has received almost 800 people on Tuesday. In Austin, city officials recorded around 500 people across different emergency shelters, including the Palmer Event Center.
In Fort Worth, the two largest homeless shelters were without power for extended periods, leading to icy temperatures inside, according to Tara Perez, manager of the Directions Home program. The city has since opened up its convention center as a warming center.
Cities have also opened centers and warming stations in churches, gyms and community centers. These locations are receiving not only people that live on the street, but also neighbors that don't have heating or electricity.
In San Antonio, where temperatures could reach 27 degrees on Tuesday night, several emergency shelters have opened and the city is using the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center as a warming center. Advocates are working to locate people in need and be sure that no one is endangered by the freezing cold.
Outreach teams are trying to be careful while driving on icy roads, looking for people experiencing homelessness.