By: Jeremy Pierre
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Several homeless shelters in Memphis confirmed to FOX13 today that the cold weather is keeping their facilities packed.
Dr. Peter Gathje from Manna House told FOX13 it’s a matter of life and death for the homeless in Memphis when it gets cold.
“People do die. In Memphis we have anywhere from five to 15 people who die from exposure in the City of Memphis,” Gathje said.
On Thursday, four different shelters in Memphis said they have been filled this week due to the cold weather – leaving many people turned away from shelters.
Gathje said homelessness in Memphis is tough to tackle.
“It’s a serious problem in the City of Memphis, especially when we have such a large concentration of poverty,” Gathje said.
Many of the shelters charge people $8-$10 to spend the night out of the cold.
Gathje said many people cannot afford the fee and are left turning to the “Room in The End” program.
Room in the Inn is supported by more than 50 area churches that take in 12 to 15 people a couple nights a week.
“People on the street are just like you and me. We need warmth, we need shelter, and we need safe places to stay,” Gathje said.
Gathje said the City of Memphis can make a push to keeping the homeless safe during the cold winter by building a space for the homeless.
“We absolutely need a free shelter in the city of Memphis for men, women, and children. It is a scandal that a city this size does not have a free shelter,” Gathje said.
The City of Memphis told FOX13 the plan they have in place for the homeless is to open warming centers if there are three straight days below 20 degrees.
The Union Mission will also make accommodations if the weather falls below 20 degrees.