Open Door Mission over capacity during first freeze warning

Posted at 10:55 PM, Oct 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-12 23:55:45-04

Low temperature will bring in high numbers of guests to Omaha’s Open Door Mission Wednesday night looking for a warm place to sleep.

A freeze warning is in effect until early Thursday morning from 1 a.m. to 10 a.m., with temperatures in the low 20s and 30s, the first freeze warning of the season.

"We do believe that some people will choose to come in from some of the homeless camps, abandoned buildings, sleeping in their cars,” says Candace Gregory, president at the Open Door Mission.

Gregory says the center is over capacity and is in overflow mode - a problem it has faced for months.

“In comparison to this time last year, we've had a 200 percent increase just in our Food Pantry Program, we have seen an 18 percent increase in safe shelter, and we have been in overflow at our Lydia House for women and children consistently for about 14 months now,” says Gregory.

Gregory says the facility's 816 beds are full with at least another 75 women and children sleeping on the floor.

The mission set up 160 extra mats as well as extra linens to accommodate people needing shelter from the freeze.

"Every person gets one mat, and they get one pillow, and then one set of sheets, and one blanket. And then they find a place on the floor, and that become their area for the night,” adds Gregory.

Gregory says the demand for meals and winter clothing items has also gone up with the overflow of guests.

“We've had a number of people come to our outreach centers looking for hats, gloves and mittens. And unfortunately it just hasn't been cold enough for people to really donate those items yet,” says Gregory.

Staff says they are in desperate need for winter clothes and blankets with the cold months ahead.

Information on donations can be found on the Open Door Mission’s website