Organizations prepare for increase in homeless seeking shelter, virus prevention

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UPSTATE, S.C. (WSPA) – As overnight temperatures drop, homeless shelters and resource centers are preparing for shelter requests to be full during the Fall and Winter months.

“We expect a huge increase especially when the weather starts getting colder,” Kelly Schlossin, executive director The Haven Community Solutions, said.

The affordable housing crisis around the nation and in South Carolina has dramatically gotten worse since the start of the pandemic. According to 2018 data, 1,185 people in the Upstate are homeless and that number has dramatically increased since the start of the pandemic.

“We’re seeing a lot of families needing shelter that never have needed it before and that have never been in this situation,” Schlossin said.

Miracle Hill Ministries, who opens their additional cold weather shelters when temperatures drop below 40 degrees, is still in the process of coming up with a plan to safely open their shelters in light of COVID-19.

Many other local housing crisis organizations have been placing families who are seeking temporary shelters into local hotels, which is made possible by additional CARES Act Funding.

According to the CDC, those living unsheltered outdoors are more vulnerable to catching diseases and infections when there is higher community spread. The need for proper social distancing, hand washing and medical care is necessary to keep the homeless community safe.

The Spartanburg Soup Kitchen is offering free flu shots and with blankets and other essentials to help those in need stay warm and virus free.

“We will have the flu shots and the Hepatitis A shots for anyone that needs a free vaccination. We’ll be giving out blankets, socks and cups with candy to encourage them to get those shots,” Lou Sartor, executive director at Spartanburg Soup Kitchen, said.

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