Seattle opens warming shelters as temperatures fall

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by NATALIE SWABY / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @NSwabyKing5

KING5.com

Posted on November 19, 2010 at 8:16 AM

Updated Friday, Nov 19 at 9:09 AM

SEATTLE – Arctic air is creeping in to the Puget Sound. The early part of next week looks like it will be the coldest of the year with high temperatures in the 30's and lows in the mid-teens to mid-20's.

The city of Seattle is already taking action because of the cold weather. Two severe weather warming shelters have been set up in downtown Seattle.

A co-ed shelter is open at city hall on Fourth Avenue between James and Cherry streets. Its doors open at 9 p.m.

The other shelter is for women only and is located at the Frye Hotel at Third Avenue and Yesler in downtown Seattle. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The city opens these kinds of severe weather shelters if there is 2 or more days of heavy rain or when temperatures reach 32 degrees and colder.

Rodney Smith just arrived in Seattle from Dallas. He is homeless, and says so far the weather is colder than he expected. Smith is happy to hear about the warming shelters.

"It gets us out of this freezing weather," says Smith. "I have heard about a lot of homeless freezing outside during the winter months."

People seeking shelter at both locations should arrive early because both have limited capacity.

The City Hall shelter can handle only 75 people and the Frye Hotel is limited to 25 women.

People living on the streets in the downtown area say the limited capacity is problem. There are simply more people than space in those shelters.

"It's overcrowded. And, like at this one place, it only takes 50 (people) and other places only take 75. And you can see the mass amount of people around here that don't have any place to go," said David, a homeless Vietnam veteran.

David says another big issue is the hours the shelters open. He says there is no place to go in the early morning hours. And, he says some places have people check in at 9 o'clock at night and leave at 4:30 in the morning. David says at that hour it is still cold..

"It really is sad, you know. I can't understand why some of these buildings can't open up and open up earlier for homeless people to go to and to leave a little bit later, you know, 6:30 or 7 o'clock (in the morning), to get back into the stream of life again," David said.

The two warming shelters will be open through next Tuesday night.
 

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