With temperatures continuing to dive this weekend, the county has launched a hotel voucher program to get the homeless off the streets.
Shelter service organizations such as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Shelter Network will handout the vouchers for a free hotel stay for any night when temperatures are forecast to be below 40 degrees, said Judy Davila, county manager of substance abuse and shelter services. Vouchers are also available when it rains, she said.
Finding shelter when it cold is critical for some, according to Michele Jackson, executive director of Shelter Network. "There are more health-related problems during the winter," Jackson said. While she didn’t have numbers on hand, the demand for shelter during winter definitely increases during the winter, Jackson said.
Aside from health risks related to exposure to the elements, the cold tends to exacerbate chronic health problems such as diabetes and tuberculosis, Jackson said.
The county has put $45,000 toward the vouchers, with St. Vincent de Paul also contributing funds.
Commenced last week, only a handful of vouchers has been handed out so far, officials said. More are expected if the weather stays in the 30s as predicted this weekend, Davila said.