St. Francis House prepares for cold nights during pandemic, limits capacity to 50%

Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 6:04 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - As North Central Florida sees temperatures dropping, cold night shelters are opening up for those without a home this year.

St. Francis House is one organization providing shelter to Gainesville families.

Like most organizations, St.Francis House has had to make many changes throughout the pandemic, including their most recent one, limiting the capacity in their cold night shelters to 50%.

“We used to be able to have about 60, right now we are about at 30 [people],” said Executive Director Lauri Schiffbauer. “So far we have not reached capacity ... really have only had two really really cold nights. It’s also the beginning of the month, so often we don’t see as many people. Towards the end of the month, we will probably see those numbers increase significantly.”

The organization is making sure all who stay at the shelter stick to social distancing, wearing face masks, and hand sanitizing. The organization is also deep cleaning the spaces after each night. The shelter is open during severe weather or when temperatures drop below 45 degrees.

“What we do is we give them a blanket, a mat, a place to sleep, a warm meal during the evening ... in the morning, they get up and have breakfast and they also have access to the showers,” said Schiffbauer.

St. Francis House also provides necessities to families from donations. Schiffbauer said saw a decrease in some donations from certain foundations but say they hope to see a turnaround soon. Find out how you can safely donate, HERE.

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