EUGENE, Oregon — Warming shelters in Eugene have seen more than 300 people a night during the recent cold snap.
The Egan Warming Centers are expected to remain open Tuesday for an eighth night, the Register-Guard reported (http://bit.ly/1hKIWs7). They open at churches and other locations when lows drop below 30, and homeless people can spend the night.
"We've saved dozens of lives, no doubt about it," said the Rev. Dan Bryant of First Christian Church.
No one has been turned away from the shelters for capacity reasons, he said, but "it's been a bit of a zoo." The centers need more volunteers, Bryant said.
The centers' project manager, Doug Bates, says a homeless man in his 30s who had used shelters twice recently died last week, and officials presume the cold was a factor. Bates said others are at risk.
"Given the lifestyle choices and mental health issues ... they are very vulnerable," Bales said.
Amid the outbreak of a flu virus, Bates said, more than 400 people volunteered at the shelters, including more than 50 who have helped out on at least seven different nights, Bales said.
At an unauthorized tent camp called Whoville, about 50 people have created a warming center out of wooden pallets, tarps and insulation sheets. A donated propane burner provides heat.
The city says it won't disrupt the illegal encampment, but the City Council took no action Monday night at a meeting where activists called for expanding options for homeless camping.
On Monday, the city opened a handful of community and senior centers, where all other classes and activities had been canceled, to provide a place for people to warm up. City officials plan to do the same Tuesday.
Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com