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Homeless shelters adding beds for cold weather

Posted at 6:27 PM, Jan 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-02 18:27:17-05

As the temperatures drop in Southwest Florida, everyone in the area is feeling the chill. But for the area's homeless, the overnight lows are getting dangerously low for those sleeping outside. St. Matthew's House, Collier County's only emergency shelter for the homeless, is spreading the word that this week's overnight lows means that their location on Airport-Pulling Road is expanding its normal capacity of 104 beds. 

"We will see a significant increase this week from the folks that literally live on the street," said Ray Steadman, program director for St. Matthew's House. 

The shelter's 104 beds are normally full to capacity. But in extreme weather, they make room for more by putting mattresses in hallways and the cafeteria. 

"When it gets into the 30s, I'll go down there to the shelter," said Bill White, a homeless man who usually sleeps in his car.

On Tuesday morning at the St. Matthew's House soup kitchen down the street from the shelter, White gave a blanket to his friend Armando - who slept outside.

"No blanket, no nothing," Armando said. "I couldn't sleep good last night either. I was freezing to death."

At the soup kitchen, he was glad to hear St. Matthew's House will accept additional people seeking shelter from the cold. 

"I didn't think it was going to get cold this year," Armando said.

Steadman asks anyone who has extra coats and blankets to please drop them off at St. Matthew's thrift store on Airport-Pulling, south of Davis Boulevard. Those who are homeless get vouchers for those items.

St. Matthew's House is also opening its Friendship House in Immokalee as an emergency shelter while the cold weather lasts.