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News / Churches & Religion

Clark County homeless shelters prepare for winter blast; many ways to help

By Jeff Klein, Columbian sports staff
Published: February 10, 2021, 6:21pm

When there’s a severe weather notice in the area, shelters around Clark County spring into action.

It’ll be no different this week with an approaching winter blast.

Emergency shelters are asked to expand capacity on severe weather nights if there is need. And with the forecast for snow and ice over multiple days, there will definitely be a need.

Council for the Homeless Strategic Partnerships Manager Laura Ellsworth said that every winter the community partners step up to help when weather conditions get bad.

Those in need of emergency shelter or know of someone who needs shelter can call the Council for the Homeless hotline at 360-695-9677 for assistance. The hotline is open from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on weekends.

To Get help

Need emergency winter shelter? Call Council for the Homeless hotline at 360-695-9677 for assistance.

“People are working every day to help provide winter shelter, even with COVID restrictions in place,” Ellsworth said, adding that all the regular shelters and overflow shelters will be open and if those fill up, there is an option for motel vouchers.

Immanuel Lutheran Church on MacArthur Boulevard in Vancouver is one of several non-walk-in satellite overflow shelters Council for the Homeless will refer to those in need as space allows.

Pastor Adrienne Strehlow said the church has 12 to 15 spots available, keeping the numbers down in order to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s wonderful that we have the space available to use,” she said. “We will get as full as possible as we want to keep people safe.”

Strehlow said those who wish to help can make a financial donation through the church website (immanuelvancouver.org/contact.htm#giving) or drop off coats or gloves. A full staff of volunteers is providing meals.

Living Hope Church at 2711 N.E. Andresen Road is a walk-in shelter. It will open at 7 p.m. on nights with severe winter weather. Outreach Pastor Brian Norris said Living Hope’s facility is equipped for 55 people with social distancing in mind.

“If there is a greater need, we could open other sections of the church,” Norris said. “If more than 100 come, we’ll figure it out. We will not kick anyone out with nowhere to go. We will do what we have to, to keep people safe.”

Norris said donations such as blankets and dry breakfast items are needed and can be dropped off at the church over the next few days. Volunteers are also welcome. Email Norris at briann@livinghopechurch.com.

ReFuel Washougal helps to meet severe winter weather shelter needs in east Clark County. It is seeking donations in order to accommodate the upcoming need. ReFuelWashougal.org has a link to donate or funds can be sent to P.O. Box 141, Washougal, WA, 98671.

The pandemic has made finding east county shelters difficult, says Rev. Robert Barber, pastor at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Washougal. But a solution was found after a board meeting Wednesday.

“We have a partnership with a local motel to provide rooms for four nights,” he said. “We reached out to those living on the street or in their cars and identified nine individuals who will be helped.”

Barber said local police will provide sleeping bags and food for those in need, as well.

“It’s really a communitywide partnership with the cities of Washougal and Camas,” he said.

Due to COVID-19, volunteering to help at some shelters may not be an option at this time. However, donations of tents, tarps, blankets and sleeping bags can be dropped off at the Housing Solutions Center, 2306 N.E. Andresen Road, in Vancouver between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Adam Kravitz, homeless advocate and founder of Outsiders Inn, said a need at his nonprofit is meals. Information on helping with that can be found online at http://www.outsidersinn.org/meal-train.

“We are stretched thin, but it has been better than other winters, so we are happy about that,” he said.

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