Despite cold weather, shelters have room

ALBANY -- With temperatures in the teens local homeless shelters stood ready accept those in need. Not many took advantage.

"We have a capacity of 42 beds," said Salvation Army Capt. Douglas McClure. "Last night we had 34 stay here. We pushed the time we allowed people to stay in this morning to 9:30 (a.m.) because of the cold."

The Salvation Army facility at 304 West Second St. in Albany is not a residential facility, McClure said. It is an emergency shelter, he added.

The area has 419 counted as homeless, said Daaiyah Salaam, Albany staff liaison to the Albany Dougherty Coalition to End Homelessness.

"They are difficult to count," Salaam said. "I believe there are many more. Someone staying with friends or relatives can also be homeless."

If someone does not have an alternative such as friends or family to stay with and could face sleeping outdoors, the shelters are ready to take them in, officials said.

The Albany Rescue Mission offers residential programs for people to get back on their feet, but at times when the temperature plummets it opens its chapel as a homeless shelter, said Daniel Dames, program manager at the mission.

"We were open Monday, but no one came in," Dames said. "We will have the chapel open tonight and all week."

The National Weather Service Web site forecast.weather.gov predicts low temperatures in the teens all week.

That may not be enough to bring the homeless into the shelters. Reasonable regulations such as lights out at 10:30 p.m. and a wake up call at 6 a.m. just don't seem attractive to the homeless, McClure said.

The Albany-Dougherty Emergency Management Agency has not yet had anyone asking for it to open its designated shelters, said Jim Vaught, director.

"We would like to encourage people to find friends and family to stay with," Vaught said. "No intervention is required yet."