Cold weather shelters open to families

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Starting on Tuesday, the Emergency Cold Weather Shelter System will be open to families in need.

The services, which is in its tenth consecutive season, is the result of collaboration work between 10 churches, Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis, the Municipality of Anchorage and the United Way of Anchorage.

Families in need can call Alaska’s 2-1-1 helpline which will connect them to the Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis shelter staff who will then coordinate with the church providing shelter that night.

“We greet them anywhere between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.,” said Marcus Geist who volunteers with the First Presbyterian Church. “We actually set up mattresses in here.”

Geist and other volunteers will set up the church’s multipurpose room to create a make-shift hotel when it is their night to host families.

Last year, 84 families utilized the services and 131 children were helped.

Since 2010, 558 families were helped along with 837 children.

“No matter what the circumstance is, we want people to have a warm place to sleep and stay off the street,” said Jason Grenn, the senior director of communications and marketing for the United Way of Anchorage. “This winter, maybe more than ever, we’re going to find ourselves needing to help people.”

According to United Way, when families sign in, they will have access to the Coordinated Entry System which to helps them find coordinated housing.

The shelters will be available to those in need until May.

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