Local homeless shelters balance COVID-19 concerns and frigid temperatures

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Winter is here and it’s creating new challenges for those who need to seek shelter during this pandemic.

“The risk becomes, is it more dangerous to be out in the weather, or if COVID. So, we are balancing all those things,” said Executive Director of Shelter KC, Eric Burger.

Burger, Executive Director of Shelter Kc says in addition to temperature checks, mask wearing and increased cleaning, the shelter has been forced to downsize volunteers, and the amount of available beds, from 100 to 50.

“Our emergency shelter, we used to just cram people in, right now, we are about half at the number we have. We are still making sure through partner groups that everybody is taken care of, we just can’t put as many people in as we have and keep that social distancing,” Burger said. “We are continuing on, we are doing things safely, but it is definitely different.”

As they adapted through the pandemic, this winter, shelters all-across the metro say they will do the same.

At Project 10 20 in Lenexa, the volunteered base homeless shelter says they are seeing an increase in need for shelter despite the cold weather.

“We have been open 23 nights, and we have seen 76 different people in those 23 night,” said Barbara McEver, co-founder of Project 10 20.

The organization houses 30 adults overnight, opening at 7 p.m.

To adapt the necessary guidelines, they’ve built partitions between cots, placed dividers in dining rooms and plexiglass in serving areas.

“We are just trying to do everything we can to make sure that guests and volunteers are as safe,” said McEver. “Because of the weather changing, I know I’m going to have to start turning people away, and that’s the hardest thing to do.”

Shelter managers say they are working closely to make sure everyone has a safe, warm place to stay during frigid temperatures.

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