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Wheeler Mission expecting influx of guests as winter temperatures drop

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With temperatures expected to be dangerously low, health officials say frostbite can set in within minutes. It’s a major concern with so many experiencing homelessness. Wheeler Mission plays a key role in the winter contingency plan.

As expected, officials say they’ll see much higher rates of people checking into the mission. Saying while some people may have concerns about doing it, safety is the most important.

The gloomy weather sets in before the cold and dozens are expected to make their way to area shelters to find relief. Wheeler Mission director of the men’s shelter William Bumphus says they are prepared.

“The biggest thing we’re doing is making sure we have enough space. And making sure if we do need to use the overflow sites that we communicate with them to let them know,” Bumphus said.

As part of the Marion County Winter Contingency Plan, Wheeler Mission is leading the homeless shelter coordinating efforts. Relaxing some of its guidelines to allow for broader access.

Men who need shelter should go to the Wheeler Shelter for men on 520 E. Market Street. Families and women should contact the Wheeler Mission Center for Women and Children 3208 E. Michigan.
Other agencies are deploying crews to assist in other ways.

“Just to make it clear 20 below zero isn’t only cold. It’s extremely dangerous, said deputy mayor of health and public safety Lauren Rodriguez. “At these temperatures frostbite can occur in just minutes. There are plenty easy ways to help us avoid the worst.”

Wheeler Mission representatives adds to that message of danger. saying no one should be out in this weather. And particularly not living and sleeping in it. So, in addition to making room, they’re taking the threat of viruses and the flu into account.

“Another thing we’ve done is, we’ve taken our vulnerable population, and kind of separated them to put them in an area all by themselves,” Bumphus said.

While there may be fear and even embarrassment about needing to find shelter, Bumphus says your life if much more important.

“Please come in. Please seek the shelter, ” Bumphus said.

As for the warming centers, city officials say they are typically focused on providing relief to those who experience heat loss.