'White flag' nights straining budgets at area homeless shelters - WDRB 41 Louisville News

'White flag' nights straining budgets at area homeless shelters

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Wayside Christian Mission has been filled past capacity housing the homeless on white flag nights. Wayside Christian Mission has been filled past capacity housing the homeless on white flag nights.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Local homeless shelters are taking more people in to get out of the cold and it's causing a strain on budgets.

The cafeteria at Wayside Christian Mission's Emergency Shelter was turned into sleeping quarters Tuesday night. Officials say after all the beds filled up, nearly 100 more people were allowed in under the white flag policy.

"We don't want anyone to freeze to death on the streets because they can't get into shelter,"  Wayside Chief Operating Officer Nina Moseley.

The 'white flag' goes into effect when the weather gets dangerously cold or hot. While it saves lives, Moseley says it's expensive. More people means more food on top of other expenses to keep the shelter going. 

"Normally, the city does supply some white flag money, which the Coalition for the Homeless then divvies out according to how many people you have kept on white flag, that money is depleted now for this year and it seems like we have a long way ahead of us for the winter," Moseley said.

Louisville's Coalition for the Homeless Executive Director Natalie Harris says the agency had less federal funds to work with this year. While $34,200 was directed to the city's white flag operation in each of the past three fiscal years, this year is was only $19,300.

There may be some more help on the way, though.

LG&E spokesperson Natasha Collins confirms to WDRB that a grant for city homeless shelters will likely be announced Thursday. She says details are still being worked out.

"We always rely on the generosity of the community, that's what we do, and they do come through for us," Moseley said.

In Indiana, Haven House is also packed. They also honor white flag but don't get any funding for it. 

"We're it in 14 counties, and we have people from several of those counties right now,"  Haven House Executive Director Barbara Anderson, noting how many people the shelter serves. 

She says more than 90 people are staying there right now and a comfortable capacity is 60.

"It's the worst winter we've had in a long time, where it stretches out as long as it has," Anderson said.

The shelter is running low on food and supplies and $25,000 approved from the New Albany City Council will be critical to help them through the winter, according to Anderson. 

"It does have a huge impact, we'll be able stock our freezers, we'll be able to pay the bills without scrambling to pay the bills for a little while," she said.

To learn more about how you can help these Wayside Christian Mission, click here. To learn more about Haven House, click here.

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