HARLINGEN — With the drop in temperatures and a colder than average winter, health officials are encouraging those without a place to go to seek out local shelters for the night.
Churches and shelters across the Valley are opening their doors and reminding residents of their available services.
Bill Reagan, executive director of Loaves and Fishes here in Harlingen, said he has seen a small spike in the number of people seeking shelter.
Loaves and Fishes has the capacity to hold 126 people with 66 beds and 60 cots being made available.
Reagan said an average of 20 or more people come in on a daily basis.
“We have plenty of room,” he said.
Even with the extreme weather conditions, the average number of people seeking shelter at Loaves and Fishes has increased only by half a dozen.
Reagan’s biggest concern is getting the word out about the shelter and its services.
According to Reagan, the majority of the people aware of Loaves and Fishes’ services are those who aren’t in need of the services and he urges them to inform those who do.
“The people who don’t know about us are the people out on the streets,” Regan said.
He said those living on the street are not the only ones who could benefit from the shelter.
Apartments without heat could also be harmful to their inhabitants.
“If you know of someone who doesn’t have adequate heating, tell them to come in,” Reagan said.
The shelter has been keeping its dining hall open during the day to provide safe places for people during these extreme weather conditions.
Dinner is usually served at 4:30 p.m. and clients are able to stay the night after their meal.
Loaves and Fishes is just one of the shelters across the Valley opening their doors to those in need.
Santos Castandeda, director of the Cameron County Public Health Department, said the department has been contacting shelters daily to keep up with the available room.
Castandeda said a shelter in Brownsville currently has space for 150 people and Mercedes will be able to accommodate 320 people.