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Cold temps prompt 'white flag nights' at local shelters

Posted November 24, 2013

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— Just before dusk Sunday, a worker at the Salvation Army of Wake County made sure a white flag was prominent out front if the Judy D. Zelnak Center of Hope on Capital Boulevard.

At area shelters, the flag is a sign of one thing, says Paige Bagwell, the nonprofit's director of operations and communications.

"It's cold, and families are cold," she said.

With temperatures forecast to drop to the mid- to upper teens Sunday night and Monday morning, area shelters put out white flags letting people know that they will do what they can to go beyond capacity.

The Salvation Army has a capacity of 92 beds. The problem, Bagwell says, is that there are 243 families on the waiting list to stay there.

On white flag nights, shelter workers do what they can to make some extra space by adding extra cots.

Those in need of a warm bed, like Sherry who was staying at the center Sunday night, are appreciative.

"It's cold outside," said Sherry, who did not want to be identified by her real name. "I ran out of income, so I couldn't get enough money for a hotel where we've been staying."

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  • lopo Nov 26, 2013

    Most homeless people don't really fit the stereotype. Soapbox

    If that is true why do undocument immigrants (can't say the "I" word here) come here work hard jobs and get a place (usually a trailer) and provide for themselves.
    Because they are willing to work hard and be an adult!!

  • soapbox Nov 25, 2013

    "Maybe if we stop they would maybe become responsible citizens and get a job and a place and contribute back to society." - lopo

    You mean like, children and military veterans? (Washington Post)

    Or those who work one or more jobs but still can't afford housing? (NY Times)

    Nearly a quarter of the homeless are children younger than 18.

    Almost 58,000 veterans were homeless,

    In cities where the ranks of the homeless are growing ... the trend is largely being driven by increases in the number of homeless families and in individuals who cycle through bouts of homelessness for short periods of time.

    Most homeless people don't really fit the stereotype.

  • whatelseisnew Nov 25, 2013

    "Or maybe they would freeze to death. Maybe we should be more thankful we’re not in their situation."

    So I wonder if these folks will buy Health Insurance or pay the Obama fine.

  • Classified Nov 25, 2013

    "Some people posting comments could learn something from them."

    It's pretty sad but my guess is they'd be hard press to learn a thing.

  • dipenkara Nov 25, 2013

    A beautiful tradition?!? There is nothing beautiful about admitting that the weather makes it inhumane to turn away those that would normally be turned away for lack of resource. It's a heartbreaking reminder that for whatever reason many, many people will experience this holiday season cold and hungry.

  • Obamacare for one and all Nov 25, 2013

    Moore Square was gorgeous last night with all of the trash barrels burning along the sidewalks and alleyways. It truly felt like a winter wonderland donwtown last night.

    Who needs Biltmore when we've got this?

  • davido Nov 25, 2013

    Glad to hear there are still compassionate people taking care of those less fortunate. Some people posting comments could learn something from them.

  • Classified Nov 25, 2013

    “Maybe if we stop they would maybe become responsible citizens and get a job and a place and contribute back to society.”

    Or maybe they would freeze to death. Maybe we should be more thankful we’re not in their situation.

  • Obamacare for one and all Nov 25, 2013

    My bed was almost too warm last night. I need to adjust the heat down a few degrees tonight.

  • lopo Nov 25, 2013

    Maybe if we stop they would maybe become responsible citizens and get a job and a place and contribute back to society.

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