Pop-Up Shelters Save Lives

January brought life-threatening, sub-zero temperatures. Our region’s emergency shelters were already full and the usual overflow cots and pop-up shelters quickly filled.

The decision was easy. PPCS opened our doors to provide refuge from the bitter cold. The “how” was more difficult. Staffing, safety, food, and supplies became immediate to-dos.

First, the City of St. Louis Department of Human Services (DHS) immediately provided 40 cots and blankets. We partnered with House Everyone STL, Lifeline Aid Group, and local CoC agencies to create a 24/7 staffing schedule for eight days and seven nights. Our loyal volunteers supplied the 800 meals needed to feed everyone that week.

“We built a plane while we were flying it,” said Dan Hill, PPCS Garfield Place Program Director and leader of pop-up operation. “We couldn’t have done it without staff and volunteers. They worked around the clock to make sure folks had a safe place to take shelter from the cold.”

Graphic with stats on the number of people served, hours staff, meals served, and days pop-up shelters were open.

Our pop-up shelter at Garfield Place was scheduled to close the morning of January 20, but the forecast had changed to extend the sub-freezing conditions. That’s when longtime PPCS supporters Wayne and Joan Long decided to open the doors of their building on Sidney Street. They sheltered those displaced when PPCS and another pop-up shelter closed after staffing forces were exhausted.

Winter Outreach managed the new pop-up shelter with support from other service providers including PPCS, Tent Mission STL and DePaul USA to house 50 people for an additional four days and nights.

“Both shelters were possible because of the power of community collaboration,” said Anthony D’Agostino, PPCS CEO. “With our temporary residents gone, we think of them and hope they are somewhere safe. This experience is one of the many reasons we will keep fighting to create an emergency shelter bed system with plenty of space during inclement weather.”

Read more about the pop-up shelter initiatives last month

St. Louis Post-Dispatch – St. Louis area sees another day of frigid cold, dangerous conditions

KMOV First Alert 4 – Warming centers open quickly to shelter homeless during St. Louis cold snap

St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Letter: Turning away the homeless has ironic biblical precedent

St. Louis Review – Catholic organizations, parishes respond to needs of others as a cold snap pierces the St. Louis region

St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Messenger: St. Louis couple opens their home to save lives during a deep freeze