Homeless group grapples with demand during extreme cold


BENNINGTON -- The local warming shelter is seeing twice the number of people in need of shielding from the elements as it normally does, given the extremely cold temperatures that are expected to continue for at least the rest of the week.

The shelter at 250 North St., run by the Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., said coalition member Mary Gerisch. It opens again from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. for people staying overnight.

When the shelter becomes full, people in need of overnight housing are referred to the group's other shelters. The North Street shelter is the coalition's hub of operations where a case manager can refer people to whatever form of assistance they may need that are administered by other agencies, be it 3SquaresVt benefits, general assistance, or possibly a hotel voucher if they meet certain requirements.

"The pressure has been turned up a lot," Gerisch said.

The shelter has showers and can be used as a mailing address and place to take phone messages. Gerisch said the shelter can be reached at 802-442-2424. Anyone who wishes to donate or volunteer can also call that number and learn what is specifically being needed. The shelter is always in need of paper supplies and toiletries.

According to the National Weather Service, a wind chill advisory is in effect until 11 a.m. Thursday. Wind chill readings have been recorded in some places at 29 degrees below zero. The forecast for Wednesday night was nine below zero, while the high for Thursday is 11 degrees, dipping to five below zero in the night. Saturday looks to be the warmest day for a while, with a 28-degree high during the day. There may be snowfall as well.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.


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