Living Hope Church opens doors for homeless spillover in freezing weather

System is holding but more capacity is welcome as cold snap continues

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter

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While Clark County’s regular homeless shelters and spillover sites haven’t been overwhelmed by people looking to escape the freezing weather, more temporary shelter space is coming online anyway.

Living Hope Church, which used to be a spacious K-Mart superstore, will open its doors for overnight hours for the next four nights, Friday night (today) through Tuesday morning. Living Hope is offering space for 25 people on a first-come, first-served basis.

The hours of operation for this overnight sheltering effort will be 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. Living Hope Church is at 2711 N.E. Andresen Road. Please enter at the north (Fourth Plain) end of the building.

Donations of blankets and sleeping bags are welcome.

“We are meeting the needs of the homeless right now with our current infrastructure, but we want to provide extra space because of the snow and cold. It’s going to get frightfully cold,” said Kevin Hiebert, who directs the seasonal Winter Hospitality Overflow effort for the Council for the Homeless.

The homeless infrastructure in Clark County includes several regular shelters — like Share House downtown and the Share Homestead in Hazel Dell — plus, during the winter, floor space that’s offered overnight by the St. Andrew and St. Paul Lutheran churches. Also, Share Vancouver routinely transforms its shelter dining rooms and living rooms into shelter space when the weather gets awful, according to executive director Diane McWithey.

But some homeless people never call the local housing hotline for shelter placement, Hiebert said — and when the weather dips below freezing, those people can be in serious jeopardy unless they come inside at last. That’s why officials with the Council for the Homeless and Living Hope decided to add more capacity.

Living Hope is eager to pitch in, according to organizer Dondi Theis. It already operates a “Live Love Center” that feeds as many as 150 hungry people every Sunday, she said. “Our church loves this kind of stuff,” she said.

Overnight accommodations at Living Hope will also include soup and sandwiches, breakfast in the morning and a sack lunch for the day.

For more information about emergency shelter in Clark County, call the Council for the Homeless Housing Hotline at 360-695-9677.