Homeless Flock to Harbor House Through Biting Cold

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COLUMBIA - Temperatures across the Midwest are expected to remain below freezing Thursday evening, driving dozens of mid-Missouri's homeless into available shelters.

The Salvation Army Harbor House in Columbia experienced a surge in homeless and transient people from across the area.

"The guideline is if it is 40 degrees at 5 p.m., then we set up cold cots," said Salvation Army Regional Coordinator, Major Richard Trimmell. "We can get anywhere up to around 80 people in the building at the coldest times."

The shelter houses 63 people, and Trimmell said they are almost always at capacity.

"Especially after that first cold snap, you'll see more people coming in than usual," Trimmell said. "We knew this time when it was going to come, so we didn't want to be caught off guard."

Trimmell said one of the biggest problems the shelter is experiencing is providing coats and maintenance to some of the worn-down cots.

"Getting them into the building is sometimes not as much of a challenge as what lies ahead," Trimmell said. "We get more donations during this time of year but the demand is so much higher."

Trimmell said Columbia is a generous community, and that conditions commonly improve as the weather settles in.

"After that very first cold snap I think people are usually more energetic about finding a place to stay," Trimmell said.

For more information on how you can donate, visit The Harbor House website or call (573) 442-1984