Freezing Temperatures Send Homeless Indoors

   Freezing temperatures are driving up the number of people looking for shelter at the Union Gospel Mission in Pasco.

   Today the mission was giving out food to the needy as well as providing a warm place to sleep for nearly 150 men, women and children.

   The 24-hour, 365-day emergency shelter houses and feeds people at two separate buildings, one for women and children and the other just for men.

   In the last few weeks, both locations have been at capacity because of the frigid temperatures.

   Today, scores of people waited in line in below freezing weather, waiting for food boxes filled with produce and staples.  

    Seventeen staff members serve 300 meals a day in shifts, and they haven't had to turn anyone away for food or shelter -- yet.

    Assistant Executive Director Andrew Porter says that may not be too far ahead in the future. "We have seen a huge increase in the last few weeks and the number of people we're feeding and the people that are sleeping here.  It's gotten really full lately. It takes a lot of money to provide electricity, heat, hot water, food, and everything that goes on here.  It takes quite a bit to keep that going," says Porter.

   In December alone, staff at the mission served 2,000 more meals to the needy than just a few weeks ago, bringing the total to about 7,500 a week.

  The mission also provides clothing for women and children, along with household items. These are available to the needy early on Thursday mornings as well.