Missoula’s Poverello Center has had to turn away needy people over the last few nights when temperatures have dipped down to near zero degrees.

Executive Director Amy Allison-Thompson said since the center limited the number of persons staying the night to 175, the necessity of turning people away has been difficult for their staff.

“Since we have implemented our cap of 175 per night and so that does mean that we are turning people away every single night, which is incredibly challenging,” said Allison-Thompson. “We are very excited that the Salvation Army’s warming center will soon be open. Some nights we’ve had to turn away anywhere from 12 to 15 people.”

Allison-Thompson said the staff doesn’t wait until darkness falls to let visitors know they don’t have enough room.

“We’ve shifted our conversation to a little earlier in the day,” she said. “Before, we would let people know at 8:45 just when check-in was happening. Since we have implemented a cap we started posting that information as to who will be able to stay a little earlier in the afternoon. Our hope is that people will have more time to find a place to spend the night. That conversation can be very challenging when staff has to let people to know we are full for the night.”

Allison-Thompson said the overflow of people have to be left to their own devices.

“What we can do is hook them up with our homeless outreach team and get them set up with a sleeping bag when we have them,” she said. “That means they have to find another place to stay and unfortunately, many times that’s outside.”

Allison-Thompson said there is special help for mothers with children.

“We do have a partnership with the YMCA, and they provide emergency shelter for families and can set the family up with a motel room for the night,” she said. “But, that is a very limited resource,”

Allison-Thompson is asking our listeners and those who read this story on our website to know they desperately need gloves, hats, hand warmers, coats and sleeping bags, that can be dropped off at the Poverello Center, located at 1110 West Broadway.