NEW ORLEANS -- With temperatures expected to dip below freezing overnight with the chill factor, managers are getting ready for a big night.
The Ozanam Inn will deal with overflow by filling the dining room with sleeping bags.
During a freeze night the city waives capacity requirements at shelters. The Ozanam Inn expects its 96 regular beds will fill up quickly, and then there’s extra room for 36 more men.
Still, it sometimes has to refer the homeless to other agencies if it fills up during a freeze night. The city also has those shelters that charge to waive their fees on a freeze night. It’s critically important, shelter managers say, on nights like this that can prove deadly.
“Almost every year people die out there, you know from the cold weather, if we don’t get them off the street,” said Ted Lewis, the Ozanam Inn Supportive Services Manager. “So it’s very important.”
“It’s scary,” said Ozanam Inn client Kerry Thompson. “Am I going to make it through the night? Is the cold really going to get me? Am I going to get frostbite? It’s scary to think about.”
There are some other shelters beside the Ozanam Inn open for the homeless. There is the Mission, the Covenant House, which accepts only teens and young adults, and the Salvation Army. Only men are allowed at the Ozanam Inn.