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Snow, cold temperatures bring concerns about lack of shelters

Posted at 5:48 PM, Oct 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-30 18:48:30-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The October cold has some people worried about the lack of warming shelters in the Kansas City Metro.

There only are a handful of warming shelters, and many don't open unless it's dangerously cold.

Jennifer McCartney, founder of Kansas City Heroes, said pop-up winter weather is devastating to those suffering from homelessness.

"This happens and they're kind of just left to their own survival skills," McCartney said.

Kansas City Heroes is a group that helps anyone in need, whether they are a single parent, have a disability or do not have a place to live.

McCartney said winter weather, like what the region is seeing, should serve as a reminder that Kansas City is missing something important.

"We have very limited cold weather shelters, McCartney said. "We have very limited regular shelters."

Kansas City Heroes works with All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, which opened an emergency warming center last year for the first time.

Senior Minister Kendall Gibbons said she was shocked by how many people showed up.

"It was horrifying to see how much need there really is," Gibbons said, “but it also felt really good to know that people were inside, and they were warm.”

Gibbons said having a warming center is something every congregation can and should do.

"You just need people who care and a warm room and a little bit of planning," Gibbons said.

While there might not be many overnight warming shelter options for people to stay at currently, anyone can stop in from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday at a Salvation Army location.

Major Curtiss Hartley, of the Salvation Army, said volunteers started planning for the weather as soon as they learned it was coming.

The Salvation Army's “Honk and Holler” team will be out Wednesday night to hand out warm meals and clothing to anyone in need.

When it comes to a possible solution to the lack of warming shelters in the Metro, McCartney said volunteers and support from city leaders are key.

"It doesn't take a lot, it really doesn't,” McCartney said. “If everybody did a little, oh my gosh, that would be incredible. We could help so many people and Kansas City could be even greater."

For more information about how to volunteer for Kansas City Heroes, join their Facebook group or go to their website.