EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Cold temperatures are starting to affect the Tri-State meaning shelters are flying their white flags.
The white flags serve as a signal for members of the homeless community that shelters are lowering their restrictions on who can come in to get out of the cold.
“A white flag at the Evansville Rescue Mission occurs whenever the air temperature or the wind chill dips below 32 degrees," explained Tracy Gorman. Gorman serves as the Executive Director for the Evansville Rescue Mission. "We just relax our entrance requirements a little bit, try to get more people in off the street because the last thing we want is people on the streets when it’s cold outside, so we do our best to get them inside.”
According to Gorman, the need for all shelters to increase capacity has grown over the years.
“On a per-capita basis, in Indiana, Evansville has more homeless individuals than the other big cities," Gorman said. "We’ve seen the number needing emergency shelter increasing over the last few years.”
According to Gorman, that steady increase over the years forced them to expand the number of people they can bring in on any given night. Gorman said that last year was the wake-up call, now the Evansville Rescue Mission can serve over 270 people with 222 beds and 50 rollaway cots.
“We don’t anticipate having to house that many individuals, but if we need to we have the ability," Gorman said.
Gorman described a need for multiple agencies to work together as the number of people in need increases, saying that the other shelters in the area along with the Evansville Police Department and other organizations that interact regularly with the homeless, act with the rescue mission as a team.
“We all work together," said Gorman. "We communicate, we get together and collaborate, and so yes it is a team effort. We all want to make sure that people are cared for the right way.”
Gorman says in addition to their overnight services they will have a day shelter right inside their new Centennial Center this winter.