Lincoln’s only overnight shelter gears up for winter ahead

People's City Mission prepares for winter
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 10:27 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - With this frigid air already gripping much of Nebraska the official start of winter is still a little more than a month away and for those without a home, it can be a battle to stay warm and stay alive.

Lincoln’s only overnight shelter said it’s still eyeing plans for an expansion.

The People’s City Mission typically provides a warm bed for about 250 people on any given night but in the cold winter months the Mission can end up opening its doors for up to 400.

“We see them come in because they don’t want to be out in that weather,” said Pastor Tom Barber with the Mission.

With the three coldest months in Nebraska being December, January, and February we’ll see the mercury dip well below the freezing point.

Right now, the building serves almost 80% of Lincoln’s homeless population and that number rises during those months. This means staff must make extra space for those seeking shelter.

“We put mats on the floor, we have cots,” Barber said. “If it really gets crowded we’ll take the dining room and start putting people in the dining room.”

The policy is simple, the People’s City Mission doesn’t turn anyone away.

“When it gets below 32 degrees with the wind chill we let everybody back in from eight at night to eight in the morning,” Barber said. “when it gets below 25 degrees then we let everybody in 24/7.”

A solution to overcrowding may soon be on the way. 10/11 Now first ran a story in 2020, the Mission told us there are plans in the works to add a new location in Lincoln with up to 700 beds but because of COVID and supply chain issues, they’ve had to push that project back.

“Most cities our size have more than one shelter in the city,” Barber said. “They have two or three and they house a lot more people overnight than we do. We need shelter space, Lincoln is growing.”

Barber said he’s hoping to find a space for that new location next year, until then he encourages everyone to help each other.

“If someone sees someone out on the streets, tell them they can come into the Mission,” Barber said. “You’re hearing it right from me, we let everybody in.”