Homeless shelter practices leave mother concerned
The mother of a man staying at one of Oklahoma City's largest homeless shelters says some of the shelter's rules leave her son out in the cold.
Wanda Young's son has been staying at the Salvation Army's homeless shelter for several weeks after being released from prison on probation. Young, of Moore, said the shelter's staff turn her son and others out nearly every day shortly before 8 a.m. Young said that rule leaves her son out on the street on mornings when it's cold or raining.
Because Young lives in Cleveland County, her son's probation requirements don't allow him to stay with her, meaning the Salvation Army's shelter is his only option for the time being, she said.
Maj. Susan Ellis, the Salvation Army's area commander for Oklahoma City, said the shelter's rules require people to leave by 7:30 a.m. on weekdays, unless temperatures are below freezing or dangerously hot. The shelter's staff also makes exceptions to the rule for mothers with children and people who work night shifts, and also if it's snowing, she said.
Most people who don't have anywhere else to go during the day go to the Homeless Alliance's day shelter, Ellis said. But the day shelter is a half mile away, and much of the route between the two facilities has no sidewalks. No city bus route runs between the two facilities.
She sympathizes with Young's concerns, Ellis said, but the shelter's staff needs to have the building mostly empty during the day so they can clean, do laundry and get ready for the following evening.
“I understand that it's not ideal," Ellis said. "Right now, it's just the way our program has been designed.”