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City Scrambles To Find Enough Shelter For The Homeless

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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Dealing with the cold and ice can be difficult when you live in a house or apartment. The situation has even more chance of turning deadly for the thousands of North Texans who are homeless.

On Friday officials in Fort Worth were concerned they may not be able to find a place to bed homeless people in the area. To accommodate everyone who is in need of help the city has opened an emergency shelter just east of downtown.

A CBS 11 News crew talked with a man named Otis, who has no permanent address. He spoke realistically about the situation that he and many others will face for the next few days. “It’s going to be hard on the shelters, very hard. Because they ain’t taking no [sic] more than they can take,” Otis said. “And I’ll be so glad if they can help us out on that.”

Otis said if there were no room at any of the shelters his only alternative would be a wooded area, or near a downtown business tall enough to block the wind.

On a slow day, Fort Worth city shelters are at 98-percent capacity.  But with weather like it is now they are maxed out.

“Our homeless shelters are very full,” explained Fort Worth’s homelessness program director Otis Thornton. “In fact last night we got down to only having about four vacant beds left. And that’s really pushing all of our community partners to the limits.”

The mayor and all the city department heads manage city operations from the emergency operations center for Fort Worth. Today finding shelter for everyone is a priority.

The decision is made to set up an emergency shelter, with 70 extra beds, at the Bertha Collins Recreation Center. Homeless people are being bused to the location from all over the city.

Combined with charitable and church efforts, Fort Worth is confident they’ll now have enough beds — so no one goes cold.

When shelter user Emily Darr heard the new she said, “I think that’d be great.  I think that’d be such a blessing for them and for those that choose to use them that’d be a blessing from God.”

Director Thornton was also pleased that a realistic, helpful solution was found. “I think we’ve done a great job as a community coming together and making sure folks are coming in out of the cold.”

There was word late Thursday evening that Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and other city workers were at Central Market picking up donations to feed those staying at area shelters tonight.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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