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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, December 27, 2018 1:00 am

Mission sees uptick in shelter population

Averaging 91 men nightly after starting month at 75

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Demand for The Rescue Mission's emergency men's shelter has increased in recent weeks, serving, on average, 16 more men than the beginning of December.

The Rev. Donovan Coley, The Rescue Mission's chief executive officer, doesn't expect the 50-degree temperatures expected today and Friday to make much difference. Temperatures don't normally motivate people to come to the shelter, he said.

“It's the loss of healthy, meaningful relationships that we see in 99 percent of the folks who come to us,” Coley said Wednesday.

In the first half of December, the Mission saw an average 75 men per night, Coley said, noting Dec. 1 saw the fewest need – 70.

Since Dec. 13, he said, the emergency shelter has averaged 91 men per night, with demand peaking at 102 men Dec. 19. Christmas Day welcomed 97 men.

The emergency shelter is intended to be temporary – typically 14 days, Coley said. Sometimes, he said, two weeks is all the time men need to get back on their feet.

“People come to The Rescue Mission for different reasons,” he said.

Those receiving emergency services are informed about the residential programs, which are structured and geared toward participants' needs, Coley said.

“Just having 70-plus men in emergency (shelter) coming in and being exposed to the program is well worth it,” Coley said. “If it was one, it would be worth it. No individual should be outdoors. They need to be in a place of safety, a community with family and being empowered, so that's what we're trying to do.”

asloboda@jg.net