Homeless shelters try to keep people out of the cold

Posted January 3, 2010

— Homeless shelters in the Triangle are preparing to help more people as temperatures drop to the high teens and wind chills dip into the single digits.

Shelters offer warmth to homeless Shelters offer warmth to homeless

Durham Rescue Mission volunteers took to the streets Sunday afternoon, urging the homeless to go inside. Those who came to the shelter were given gloves, shirts and headwear.

"We try to go out and warn them. This is very dangerous, you need to get in,” Rob Tart, chief operating officer of the Durham Rescue Mission, said. “It is so crucial because it is literally life and death."

Rodney Burgess, who had been sleeping in abandoned homes, spent Sunday at the Durham Rescue Mission.

“I am just trying to stay warm,” Burgess said. "Thank God for this place right here."

Burgess said he knows how important it is to get inside.

"I have seen people getting frostbite,” he said.

Betty Brock is also homeless and has been sleeping in her van for five years.

"Thank God, I have a van to be in,” she said.

Brock said she can't always run the van's heater because of the high cost of gas. She bundles in blankets and tries to brave the cold the best she can.

A woman recently gave Brock an electric blanket that she can plug into her van's cigarette lighter. Brock said it will be a huge help on nights "when you wake up with a quarter inch of ice on the inside of your windows."

Shelters in Wake County initiate the "White Flag" program when overnight temperatures are below freezing. The shelters then take all comers, no matter how overcrowded it gets.

Shelters in Wake and Durham counties

  • Durham Rescue Mission Men's Division, 1201 E. Main St., Durham (men)
  • Durham Rescue Mission Women and Children's Division, 507 E. Knox St. (women and children)
  • South Wilmington Street Center, 1420 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh (men)
  • Helen Wright Center for Women, 401 W. Cabarrus St., Raleigh (women without children)
  • The Healing Place of Wake County, 1251 Goode Drive, Raleigh (women without children)
  • Salvation Army, 215 S. Person St., Raleigh (women with or without children)
  • Raleigh Rescue Mission, 314 E. Hargett St., Raleigh (women with or without children)

View Triangle homeless shelters in a larger map


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  • freedomgal Jan 4, 2010

    Alot of homeless people have mental health issues. But whenever money gets tight ---- it's the mental health budget that gets cut first. go figure

  • maydaymanny Jan 4, 2010

    If you are all discussing the woman downtown that lives in her van beside Moore Square, I walk by there every day. She has a cell phone and smokes. Many people CHOOSE to live this way. I see most of the homeless down there smoking and text/talking on cell phones when they could be at the Wake County Public Library filling out online applications and sending out resumes. While I feel sorry for those that are temporarily homeless, I have no sympathy for many of these people as they can afford luxuries that some of the hard working poor cannot. They can all attend college (just as I did even though I was incredibly poor). There are options so be careful when holding your hearts out there. Remember that some people CHOOSE this life.

  • DougWare.NET Jan 4, 2010

    Every time I read this headline, I swear it says "Homeless shelters try to keep people out in the cold" until I go back and read it a second time.

    I do hope everyone has someplace warm they can turn to during this weather.

  • seeingthru Jan 4, 2010

    heartless country

  • blondectryrose Jan 4, 2010

    stuff like this breaks my heart!!!

  • bjcoker2 Jan 4, 2010

    It has bothered me ever since I saw the interview with Betty Brock and the fact she sleeps in her van. I don't understand how this happens to the elderly. How we can allow it to happen? She mentioned the fact her son built her a bed for the van, why is her family allowing this? I wish we knew more about this lady , How she got in this situation but yet has a car that she obviously pays insurance on since she is driving around looking for places to park and sleep? Please tell us more.

  • timothycapwell Jan 4, 2010

    Why has that woman been sleeping in her van...for FIVE YEARS?!?!?

  • TeresaBee Jan 4, 2010

    Betty Brock is also homeless and has been sleeping in her van for five years.
    "Thank God, I have a van to be in,” she said.

    Here is proof that no matter how little one has there is still room to be grateful.