While many people are turning up the heat to try to stay warm during the cold weather in the Wiregrass, some folks are just trying to find shelter from the elements.
The Dothan Rescue Mission is the only place in the area that can provide free shelter to those who have none.
Brad Hardy, director of the Dothan Rescue Mission said, “Some of them will stay in their cars; some of them will try to find abandoned homes to help them get shelter from the wind. It's really a hard situation for the homeless right now to find a place.”
Each year, the mission cares for about 50,000 people with everything from shelter to food to prescription drugs and rent assistance. However, the mission only has enough beds to provide shelter for 35 people at a time.
In previous years, the mission has provided shelter to 6000 to 8000 people a year. This last year, they helped over 10,000 people with a place to stay. Even so, many people are turned away because there just isn't enough room.
Some local churches try to help a small number of homeless people in the area by paying for a hotel room for a night.
Dothan Police Sergeant Gormley said, “Normally, in my experience, I’ve contacted the Catholic Church and the priest will work with that person to provide whatever assistance they need.”
Both the church and the Dothan Rescue Mission rely on money from donations to keep their doors open.
Hardy says they just barely stay within the budget each year. “The homeless population is going to grow,” he said. “We're looking at more women and children as well as a growth population, so we have no answers. We're just going to have to grow with the problem and hopefully get funded for that.”
Rescue Mission officials don't see the problem getting better anytime soon until another shelter is built in the area.
The Dothan Rescue Mission is hoping for help from the public. If you would like to donate, you can contact them at 334-794-4637.