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Wheeler Mission prepares for more people during snowstorms

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — It was business as usual despite the weather for Wheeler Mission.

The director of the downtown men’s emergency shelter at East and Market streets says the agency prepares for an influx of people when snow hits.

“We pretty much stay open 365 seven days a week all year every year,” said William Bumphus. “We don’t, you know, ever have any off days.”

Bumphus says normal capacity for the shelter is around 400 people; however, this week it’s remained from 320-335 occupants. He credits the boost in housing initiatives by several local organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said, “Our numbers have actually dropped a little bit since the COVID. (What) we see now are just new guys, new guys coming into the system, new guys enter into homelessness. So, you know, our main goal is to try to get them in a position to end their homelessness.”

However, he says, lower numbers of occupants don’t necessarily mean the need for help has gone away.

“We were sending a lot of guys out and some guys are getting housed. But as many as we’re sending out and housing, we have that many coming in,” Bumphus said.

He says the shelter has game nights, movies, books, Bible studies and worship sessions. “The biggest thing is just making sure we have the capacity to take on anyone who needs shelter services during this weather,” Bumphus said.