New rules for 'Freezing Nights' homeless shelters

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by ADAM MERTZ / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 9, 2013 at 11:09 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 9 at 11:19 PM

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- Run-ins with the law could keep some homeless out of the “Freezing Nights” overnight shelters. The program is implementing new rules for those who stay at the shelters.

"A lot of the problems that are happening with Freezing Nights aren't necessarily at Freezing Nights, It's not the 12 hours that we have them, it's the 12 hours after they've left,” program director Amy Schweim said.
 
As part of the Freezing Nights program, local churches welcome in people off the streets and give them a place to stay during the coldest months of the year. The program requires a background check and bans alcohol and drugs on church property. Sex offenders and certain felons are also not allowed at the shelters.
 
“We really work on keeping the program safe for the volunteers and for the other guests,” Schweim said.
 
Earlier this year, the city formed a task force to examine the impact of homelessness in the city.  The task force is recommending new rules for the program. 
 
"It has been an issue of community concern by a lot of different folks," Puyallup spokesperson Melanie Harding said.
 
As part of the recommendations, the Freezing Nights program will work directly with the city to identify people who are behaving inappropriately in public. Schweim said those people could be banned from the program.
 
The churches have also created a list of people who will no longer be allowed to stay at the shelters because of previous incidents.
 
A member of the Freezing Nights program was part of the task force, which crafted the rules.
 
The new rules go into effect when the shelters open November 1st.

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