Homeless shelters over capacity in Benton Harbor

The emergency shelter for women and children in Benton Harbor is full and they are in need of food and warm clothes for their guests.

The home at 645 Pipestone Road has 10-15 children and 15-20 adults staying there right now. 

Paula Bryan, the Executive Director of Emergency Shelter Services said they aren't turning anyone away who comes knocking on the door because of the current temperatures. 

Bryan said, “We usually make room. Generally it's an influx of people and we do our best to try and get them in housing right away.”

Bryan said their shelter needs canned food, paper products, toilet paper, and warm clothes. 

Bryan said, “Hats, mittens, coats, we also need food. Most people when they get here they don't have food. Canned soups are very helpful!”

On Thursday municipalities in Berrien County didn't have any warming centers open according to the county's emergency management office. 

Bryan said, “It's a challenge for us, but that's what we are here for. We're here to make sure that people stay warm and that they have a roof over their head.”

One lady who was staying at the shelter said it's nice to have a warm place to sleep. 


Lynn Taylor said, “I sleep good and cuddle up real fine.”

Taylor said her biggest obstacle is transportation. She said in this type of weather she can't walk to the doctor's office so she relies on "Dial-a-ride." She said she would be thrilled if someone donated free tokens for the service.


Taylor said, “It's hard because we don't have transportation to go places, we need help to get tokens to get transportation and stuff.”

The director said a staff member is on site around the clock at 645 Pipestone Road if you have donations for the shelter. The non-profit is also funded through proceeds obtained at their 6 Degree Resale store on Main Street in Benton Harbor. 

On Thursday ABC57 also stopped by the Salvation Army's homeless shelter for men. They are currently over capacity with 46 people. They normally operate from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. but due to these temperatures they are staying open all day at their location on Michigan Street. 

Major Mike McKee with the Salvation Army said it's a matter of survival.

McKee said "On days like today you can't ask guys to go out and fend for yourself today, it was below zero wind chill so we're staying open." 

McKee also mentioned that he operates the only homeless shelter for men in Berrien, Van Buren, and Cass Counties so they are always in need of monetary help. 

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