Manchester’s largest homeless shelter, New Horizons, has opened its doors around the clock and started offering lunchtime soup to help people cope with the frigid temperatures, the organization said.
The shelter relaxed its rules starting Thursday evening, allowing people to come in at any point to get out of the cold, said Michele Talwani, spokesman for Families in Transition/New Horizons.
New Horizons was providing soup on Monday afternoon. About 30 were in the dining hall early Monday afternoon when Talwani spoke.
“We’re here to keep people warm throughout the day,” Talwani said.
She said the shelter, which has 78 beds, slept 120 people overnight on Sunday. For the last several months, overnight clients have numbered a little more than 100, and shelter workers have been setting up cots in the main dining room.
“It’s just so cold they want to come in. They don’t want frostbite and they’re encouraging their friends to do the same thing, ” Talwani said.
Talwani said the high numbers mean that some people have to sleep in the hallway between the soup kitchen and the food pantry.
Meanwhile, the Manchester Fire Department said it has not seen an increase in Safe Station visits because of the cold snap.
District Chief Michael Gamache said three people sought help from Safe Station overnight Sunday, which he said is the normal number.
Fire officials initially worried that Safe Station would draw people who want to get out of the weather during cold snaps. But Gamache said an analysis by Chris Hickey, the emergency medical services officer for the fire department, showed that was not the case.
“Safe Station is not set up for that,” Gamache said.
When a person arrives at Safe Station, they are evaluated and either shipped to a hospital or The Doorway at Granite Pathways, which helps to arrange care.