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Homeless shelters continue to help those in need, despite pandemic and cold

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Homeless shelters continue to help those in need, despite pandemic and cold

FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - As Mid-Michigan settles into the cold winter months, homeless shelters across the state are doing what they can to help people in need.

Homeless shelters like Carriage Town Ministries, My Brother's Keeper and Shelter of Flint face their own set of challenges making sure they have enough space for people and also keeping people safe.

Luckily, that isn't so much of a problem at Carriage Town Ministries in Flint. The shelter can house up to 60 men and between 60 and 80 women and children.

"At the start of the pandemic we definitely decided to social distance much more than we are now, so we were keeping capacity down to about half. But now we're averaging between 40 and 50 men on any given night and the same for the women," said Carriage Town Ministries Operations Director Nic Gatlin.

He said that unlike other shelters across the state, most people are not staying longer than what's considered a normal stay. At Carriage Town, that stay is roughly three to four months.

The number of people rotating in and out has been consistent and has not become problematic for the shelter. Those seeking shelter typically have been through some sort of physical, emotional or mental trauma, and the pandemic only adds another layer to an already stressful burden.

But Carriage Town wants people to know that they are there and can help people through what may be a challenging time for them.

"We are playing it safe. We are encouraging all those safe practices, all those safe guidelines from the CDC and local health department. But we do want to make sure our doors are open. We want to make sure this is a refuge, pandemic or not, COVID or not," said Gatlin. 

Carriage Town doesn't just help the people who come here for shelter. They are very much involved in the Flint community.

They will be starting their COVID-19 vaccination and testing clinics again next Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those clinics will be held every other Thursday.

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