NORMAN — United Way of Norman has released $5,000 in emergency funds to help with a dramatic increase in homeless families seeking assistance.
Extreme temperatures are forcing many inside, and the need has only worsened because of families displaced by wildfires, officials said.
The Salvation Army shelter is at capacity, and officials with Food and Shelter, which provides housing and/or meals for the homeless, say their budget has been stretched to the limits because they are providing motel rooms for some of the families.
“We've had families call churches and other agencies to try to find a place to stay,” said Food and Shelter Executive Director April Doshier. “But many of these families had nowhere else to go, so motels were the only option. That gets very expensive.”
Kristen Martin, with the Salvation Army, said the Norman shelter is sleeping up to 40 people every night. The shelter, which normally closes during the day, is being kept open around the clock because of the extreme heat, she said.
The Salvation Army and Food and Shelter are working with the Red Cross to assist families who lost their homes in wildfires.
Martin said the shelter is helping with housing, food and clothing. Doshier said Food and Shelter has provided clothing for at least one displaced family.
“This extreme heat is hard on families in crisis, and we are doing everything we can to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy,” Martin said.
However, the shelter is at capacity and the organization needs community support to keep assisting those in need, she said.
The shelter needs donations of money, ice, sports drinks, snacks, towels, socks and T-shirts, Martin said.
The Salvation Army shelter and Food and Shelter, 104 W Comanche St., besides providing housing assistance, are among several “cooling off” stations in Norman, where people go to seek relief from the heat during the day.
COOLING OFF STATIONS
The following “cooling off stations” are available to people trying to escape the heat during the day.