South Bend homeless looking for shelters before winter amnesty

South Bend homeless with limited options before winter amnesty. // WSBT 22 Photo

The city of South Bend is encouraging people to use a November 1 winter amnesty to move to the Center for the Homeless.

That amnesty doesn't kick in until Wednesday.

That's leaving homeless people with limited options.

There are some organizations trying to keep the homeless warm.

With the unseasonably cold weather, homeless shelters usually open their doors.

However, with city warming centers not opening until later this year, it begs the question, where should they go?

Temperatures are falling below freezing overnight Monday and homeless people are being left out in the cold, literally.

Just hours after cleaning under the Main Street viaduct, people have returned for Monday night.

"They didn't take their personal belongings, but the skids that we had provided kept them warm. Kept them off the ground. Kept them dry and they confiscated it. They broke them up right in front of the homeless, right in front of me,” said John Shafer of the Michiana Five For The Homeless

For those who are being displaced from the underpass, there are few options right now.

"Put us somewhere that's safe. Make rooms in the missions," said Danny Weathers.

Usually shelters hold amnesty periods for people to come in from the cold.

"We give them a hot meal, allow them to come into our agency, a blanket and a pillow and they can watch TV for a little bit and they will also have a mat so they can rest for the evening,” said Chrystall Villel, director of Support Services at the Life Treatment Center.

While the Center for the Homeless and Life Treatment Center offer these programs, they don't start until Wednesday.

They also have a limited number of spaces.

For those who can't fit, experts tell us they will have to find places like stairwells to shield from the cold.

"They may go to vacant buildings, they may go to abandon houses,” said Villel.

The Center for the Homeless can accept 15 men and two families during the Amnesty period.

The Life Treatment Center has beds for up to 10 women.

Both organizations say they are taking donations now for pillows, blankets and most importantly coats and winter gear.

The city will have an amnesty center again this winter, but that's not scheduled to open until December 1.

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