Homeless shelter opens just in time for cold weather and fills up fast

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 7, 2015) - Wheeler Mission Ministries opened up a new addition to its homeless shelter and the space is filling up fast. The new building opened on Tuesday just in time for the dangerously cold weather.

“We heard on the news that 'hey, it’s going to be cold' and it was just the perfect day, because as soon as we opened we had almost double the number of guys we usually see on a regular basis again. Because of the cold weather because of the elements outside," said William Bumphus, assistant director of  the Wheeler Mission Shelter for Men.

As Wheeler Mission continues to serve more people the organization is asking for donations of mens' pajama pants (size medium  through XXL), socks and underwear. Donations can be dropped off at the mission's administration offices located at 205 E. New York Street and at any of the locations listed online.

The shelter expects to sleep more than 250 men on Wednesday night. Officials estimate they fed about 500 people on Tuesday and believe the number will remain high in the following days.

"Our homeless citizens are impacted by harsh weather more than anyone else in the community. Getting them out of the cold can literally mean life or death," said Rick Alvis, Wheeler Mission President and CEO.

Building inspectors signed off on the new two-story, 12,000 square foot addition on Monday. It is connected to the current Emergency Shelter for men at 520 E. Market Street. The addition will allow Wheeler Mission to renovate the older building and expand the sleeping area from 124 to 200 permanent beds. The new building also features a much larger room where men can warm up during the day.

The city of Indianapolis is working with a street outreach team to check on the homeless and encourage them to go to a shelter. If there's too much demand the city will open up a temporary overnight shelter.

“Our professional street outreach team has been on nine hour shifts since Monday," said Jule Fidler with the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development.

The outreach team is working from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. and 5 p.m. - 8 a.m. IMPD also deployed a special unit dedicated to assisting the homeless.

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