Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Shelter handles record numbers

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December’s frosty temperatures not only sent thermometers plummeting, but also increased numbers relying on the city’s cold weather shelter.

The Alan P. Linton Jr. Emergency Shelter on DeGrange Street reached an all-time high in clients requesting services — 136 men and women in December, according to the shelter’s operator, the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs.

According to the Rev. Brian Scott, executive director for the Religious Coalition, that is the highest total for the temporary shelter for any December since the shelter opened in 1990. The shelter contains 72 beds with separate facilities for men and women.

Scott noted a 20 percent increase in demand for other services, such as fuel, utilities and food by those who use the agency’s services. He predicts that demand will be higher this year.

The shelter sees its peak use in January and February, he said.

‘‘We all know that the economy has been a bit shaky ... and that is one of the factors we believe is leading towards more people being homeless,” he said. It costs the coalition more than $500 each day to operate the shelter. The Coalition is looking for volunteers and financial contributions to help those in need. For more information, call 301-631-2670.