Homeless in Tyler seek warm shelter at the Salvation Army - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Homeless in Tyler seek warm shelter at the Salvation Army

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(KYTX) - For homeless people across East Texas these temperatures near freezing can be deadly. 
When temperatures drop below 40, the only overnight shelter in Tyler opens its doors for emergency shelter. 

CBS 19's Courtney Friedman is live from the Salvation Army.
Courtney, normally the salvation army sets up cots in a big room for the emergency shelter, right?

Yes, they do. But that room downstairs is being used for holiday meals, so the salvation army is using extra dorm rooms like this as emergency shelter. 

It is open from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. 

Whitney Staples never thought she and her two young children would end up homeless.

But she says a bad relationship forced her to leave home.

 "There was a lot of abuse," says Staples. 

They've been living at the Salvation Army for about 7 months. It's the only shelter in town, and Staples said it was full for days before they finally got in.

"We stayed in a tent and woke up in this much water."   

Twenty-six year old Heather Humphries,homeless for 11 years, says she almost lost her life Sunday night to freezing temperatures.

My tent was cold and wet and there was really nobody home because everybody likes to take off to the hotels if they can afford it, I was cold and alone. I was literally purple and I could not move anymore.

A local church group found her under the East Valentine bridge.

"This young girl picked me up and wrapped me in blankets and pretty much saved my life," says Humphries.

Like much of Tyler's homeless population, she spends her days at Gateway to hope a resource center providing shelter, computers, showers, and laundry for the homeless from 8 a-m to 4 p-m. 

When it's below 40 degrees,  many head to the Salvation Army's emergency shelter.

"You have to have your ID and you can't have any violent criminal charge," says Chantel Millins with the Salvation Army. 

Many who don't fit those qualifications head to places like the Highway 80 Rescue Mission in Longview or end up in Tyler's tent city.

"People up in tent city, they talk about there's all these abandoned buildings need to be redone and made into shelters."

People like Staples are grateful for what is available, but wish there were more resources especially during weather like this.

Two hundred ten people live here at the Salvation Army.

There are usually only a couple rooms open at a time, and sometimes it does fill up to full capacity.

Last night, 20 people showed up. Tonight, they are expecting more.

They say if dorms fill up, there is a community center they can put extra cots in to make sure everyone who comes for help gets it. 

As Courtney mentioned one of the things you should have is your ID. If you don't have one, the Salvation Army can help you get one.

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