Firehouse Ministries sees increase in people seeking shelter

Helping the homeless in the cold

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Not only are we dealing with a pandemic but we’re also dealing with frigid temperatures, and that means local shelters, like Firehouse Ministries, are doing more to help those in need.

Executive Director, Anne Rygiel said the shelter is seeing an increase in people because it’s just not safe for them to be on the streets with temperatures dropping below freezing.

Rygiel said there was already an uptick in homelessness because of the pandemic, and while conditions like sleeping in cars and under bridges were not ideal, it was actually safer for people to stay outdoors.

Of course, now with temperatures dipping into the low 20s, Firehouse Ministries is hoping people will come in from the cold.

But capacity is limited to 70% because of COVID-19.

“So, one of the things that we did was our lunchtime…so we usually sever 120,000 meals every single year…the guys that are staying in the shelter still eat in our lunchroom inside but for folks that maybe haven’t been associated with the Firehouse, we make meals, we serve it them outside, on pretty days we’ll set up tables so they can eat and get that nourishment, but do it safely,” Rygiel said.

Firehouse Ministries is the only homeless men’s emergency shelter in our area with no time limit on length of the stay.

Guests receive three hot meals and a snack each day, as well as supportive services to help them get back on their feet.

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