People without heat prepare for cold weekend

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Boutwell Auditorium will not be acting as a warming center this weekend due to events that are scheduled. This means people seeking warmth have to look for another option.

“They open the Boutwell on the hot days when it’s a little warm and you can survive out here but on the cold days you want to close it up so I guess we have to find a way to get around, try and all huddle together,” one homeless man said.

Homeless that frequent Lynn Park were out on Thursday because of the nice weather, but in about 24 to 48 hours that temperature is going to drop. The usual place they turn to is the Boutwell Auditorium. The city says it will be closed and they will not be putting any other plan in place.

“City needs to step up their game and do something about this,” another homeless man said.

Hundreds that usually roll into the Boutwell are now turning elsewhere, which means the shelters are preparing for a lot of people this weekend.

“We know that there are going to be days when we are going to have to bring out the mats and we are prepared for that,” said Tony Cooper with Jimmie Hale Mission.

JHM says they are already prepared. They have 140 beds and extra mats ready.

“Like if we run out of room in our dormitory here, then we go right outside in the hallway which is just as warm and close to the restrooms,” said Cooper.

The Firehouse Shelter, First Light and others in the area exercise the same policy of not turning people away during extreme cold weather nights. Those that have experienced sleeping out in the cold, say it can be paralyzing.

“Once that sun starts coming down, it’s time to get in,” one homeless man said.

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