Cold Weather Response Program Concludes: Up to 31 Households in Carroll County Were Kept Safe
Updated: Apr 27
The Way Station was entrusted as the distributor of DHHS funds to address emergency cold weather shelter in Carroll County for homeless individuals. It was the first time the county has had a coordinated response to cold weather emergencies constituted by winter temperatures and weather conditions.
The funding covered a combination of providing appropriate Cold Weather Emergency Response Shelter Kits, offering gas cards so they people could heat their vehicles (which are sometimes their emergency residence) overnight, and providing short-term emergency stays in local hotels. Clients were referred by local towns, Tri-County Cap, regional agencies, and directly through the Way Station. During the winter, we served up to 31 households.
Those emergency funds were limited, and they have now been expended. The Cold Weather Emergency Response program in our county has officially concluded.
The Way Station, and those organizations with whom we work, recognize that our ultimate goal is to develop long-term, sustainable responses to such emergencies. Yet we work on this challenge one step, one season at a time. Having access to such funds throughout the winter permitted a greater level of safety for more people in extreme weather conditions than our county has previously offered. It is ironic that providing winter-rated camping equipment, with advice to camp in legal locations such as the national forest, was considered an improvement over prior years. Winter camping is not our preferred response, yet even with the emergency funds stretched as far as possible, we gave out approximately 5 emergency shelter kits per week.
Now that the emergency Cold Weather Response funding has ended, many households face the same challenges that threatened their wellbeing at the beginning of the winter. They are returning to outdoor living, winter camping, sleeping in cars, doubling or tripling up in hotels, or couch-surfing.
This emergency funding didn't fix anything long-term. The root causes and underlying issues which contribute to housing-insecurity or outright homelessness, differing case by case, haven't yet been resolved.
The success is that vulnerable folks are alive, despite extreme winter weather, to tackle tough questions and to figure out what comes next. Ideally, our neighbors will continue connecting to multiple resources. One of those supportive contacts continues to be the Way Station.