LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Homeless shelters across the state are bracing for the winter surge while trying to follow COVID-19 guidelines. One shelter is expecting close to 300 people in the next several days.
As the temperatures start to fall there will be fewer cars on the road and fewer people on the sidewalks, but under the overpasses and below bridges there will be people like John Ross.
“I’ve been back out here since October,” Ross said.
Ross is living on Main and 8th St, setting up camp under one of the parking decks to shelter him from what’s to come. In the last several months, he’s stocked up on the essentials.
“I have big comforters, lots of sleeping bags, plenty of sweaters,” Ross said.
Sometimes he will even get a gift from those driving by.
“This lady gave me a knitted blanket. This is really going to help,” Ross said.
Over at the Compassion Center in Little Rock, Pastor William Holloway and his team are expecting to see close to 300 people in their shelter in the next several days.
“We usually start filling up this time of year because of the bad weather,” Holloway said.
This year, however, they have to take extra precautions to keep the homeless in and COVID-19 out.
“We can no longer run 50, 60, 70 people at one time through our kitchens,” Holloway said.
From the meals to social distancing, Holloway said the health department came in to give advice on how to follow every precaution.
“We went upstairs and changed all of the beds so you’re actually from head to toe so that actually puts about a six-foot distance between each person,” Holloway said.
As the Compassion Center prepares to house hundreds, Ross prepares to weather the storm. If it gets too bad, Ross knows there’s a place to go that’s not too far away.
“Everything is going to be alright. Got to keep hope. Got to have hope,” Ross said.
Holloway said to get through the check-in process and COVID precautions they like to take people by 10:00 p.m. They do have an area to house those who come after.