Area Churches Jumping In To Fill Gaps For Homeless During Frigid Weather

Robbie Owens reports.

Video Transcript

- Efforts to protect the homeless from the dangerously cold weather we already have complicated by this year of COVID, obviously. Shelters that can't handle everything need some help. So Robbie Owens reports tonight that churches across North Texas are jumping in now to fill in some of the gaps.

ROBBIE OWENS: Renovation Community Church in Fort Worth is a newcomer in the sheltering business.

CHRIS BRANIGAN: With how cold it's going to be the next 10 days, we wanted to do something more than just give them clothing.

ROBBIE OWENS: Deciding that something as simple as a cot and a warm place could save a life. And, yes, then there's COVID.

CHRIS BRANIGAN: It is a concern. I have a lot of health problems myself. But what's more concerning right now with several days being below freezing as a high is that people on the streets are, honestly, in the next few days more at risk of dying from exposure than dying from COVID.

ROBBIE OWENS: At OurCalling in Dallas, rapid COVID testing will allow clients who are negative access to shelters.

CALLEN RENARD: Because I'm like an old Ford pickup truck. I freeze, I freeze really easy.

ROBBIE OWENS: Levity aside--

WAYNE WALKER: We're terrified that some of our homeless friends are going to die.

ROBBIE OWENS: --the bitter cold is a serious concern.

WAYNE WALKER: And, unfortunately, a lot of the philanthropy on the streets where people just pile up blankets and give people resources in a camp, it enables them to stay in a life-threatening scenario. We would much rather them be in a shelter.

ROBBIE OWENS: The city of Dallas amended an ordinance that prevented churches from serving as emergency shelters, but still excludes those in the downtown area. OurCalling could be fined for providing overnight shelter. It is a risk, leaders say, they're willing to take.

WAYNE WALKER: There's a lot better solutions than playing politics, especially when life and death are at play. It would be much more cost effective and more humane to use the money to rent some hotel rooms to keep someone safe.

CALLEN RENARD: If you can, try not to ever be homeless because it is a rough, rough life.

ROBBIE OWENS: Robbie Owens, CBS 11 News.