Nov 18, 2022

Shelters welcome St. Joseph homeless to get out of the bitter cold

Posted Nov 18, 2022 5:39 PM

By MATT PIKE

St. Joseph Post

With the cold weather seemingly here to stay for the winter, officials with Community Missions in St. Joseph are opening up cold weather shelters.

Executive Director Rachael Bittiker says last year the cold weather shelters served 96 different homeless men around St. Joseph.

And this year, Bittiker says, Community Missions is also opening up the shelter to homeless women

"As far as women goes, we do know that there's a significant need for that for the fact that the women numbers are increasing living on our streets as well," Bittiker tells KFEQ/St. Joseph Post.

The shelters first opened doors on Wednesday night, welcoming in 12 people to stay out of the cold

"Which is actually really surprising considering that we really didn't advertise too well and that being the first night, and also with us doing the construction of the new cold weather shelter," Bittiker says.

The cold weather shelter only opens its doors when night temperatures are below 20 degrees.

Bittiker says while Community Missions does spread the word about the location of the shelter, the biggest source of getting the information spread is word of mouth

"Once individuals know where it's at, once people come and stay, we'll just see it continue to climb more and more just because of word of mouth," Bittiker explains. "They are a community of their own as well and so the word of mouth will probably be the biggest way to communicate."

Bittiker says the cold shelter is open to homeless men and women that have nowhere else to go.

"Individuals that normally in the community you would see sleeping in bus terminals, sleeping or hiding in wooded areas in our community, sleeping on the sidewalk, those that are actually deemed homeless meaning that they have no place to go," Bittiker says.

While construction is happening on a cold shelter, that will help serve 15 more people than Community Missions can currently, the cold shelter is located at First Christian Church at 927 Faraon Street.