Local Resources for Staying Warm While Unhoused or Living in a Car
For those who are currently unhoused and seeking safe lodging, whether it be in a car or in a shelter, here are some resources and tips on how to stay warm during the winter.
Lighthouse Ministries has a soup kitchen open daily, serving free breakfast, lunch and dinner at 410 S. Columbia St.
Executive Director Shawn Arrington says they also provide services for those in need of mental health services or have substance use issues.
“They have sources to connect with recovery navigators as well as mental health services. If [they have a] substance use disorder or mental health disorder, they have immediate services that can get them into [inpatient] facilities across the entire state, usually within a matter of four hours.”
St. Francis is a low-barrier shelter operated by the People’s Foundation, which is located at 810 S. Wenatchee Ave.
NCW Libraries recently announced that they are serving as warming centers as well, where residents can stay inside during library hours (holiday hours may vary this weekend).
The Wenatchee Rescue Mission is actively coordinating transportation for those seeking shelter.
The Wenatchee Rescue Mission also offers overnight shelter, with the addition of two safe parks for those living in their vehicles.
Executive Director for the Wenatchee Rescue Mission Scott Johnson said they have over 100 shelter beds and cots available for those seeking immediate shelter this week.
“I do have about 10 to 15 cots that we will put up in our dining room if need be, to protect people from the cold, not going to allow them to stay out there,” Johnson said. “Just because they don't have beds doesn't mean we're not going to take them. Worst case scenario, somebody sits all night, we're just not going to allow people to die out there like that.”
Johnson said they, along with Catholic Charities, have arranged hotel accommodations for families. They are also handing out propane tanks for those living in motorhomes and portable Mr. Buddy heaters for those who are sleeping outside.
“We really encourage people to go into the safe parks or go to the mission. We just don't want people staying out, and if they do, the best thing is to get one of those little heaters and get a hold of us,” Johnson said. “Right now we're not worried about anything, just come in.”
The two safe parks can house 40 vehicles and 66 people.
For those living in their car or can’t find shelter, some of these recommendations could help those retain warmth until more shelter becomes readily available.
Disclaimer: This is in case of an emergency if there is no other shelter available and you can’t get to a safe park. Please try and contact the local shelters or the Wenatchee Rescue Mission before sleeping outside.
- Wear multiple layers to retain body heat, including socks. Wool cloth is preferable in this case.
- Huddle near a tree or structure to avoid increased winds.
- Building a “snow-wall,” similar to an igloo, can reduce wind exposure and help retain some heat and moisture.
- Keep a few garbage bags on you to retain the heat, along with putting plastic bags over your socks before putting shoes on.
- Keep a tent with you, but if that creates issues with law enforcement you can use a tarp instead with some sticks/poles/clips to support it.
- Drink warm liquids (water, coffee, tea), it can also help to hold a warm water bottle to ward off threats of hypothermia.
- If available, eat a warm meal before going to sleep, it will also help retain internal body heat.
- Find thermal blankets if you can or a sleeping bag.
- Stay dry and avoid the snow if you can. Multiple layers of cardboard can help bridge a barrier between you and the snow on the ground.
- If you can, build a small and secure fire near you.
- For those living in their cars, make sure the car is insulated, whether that be space blankets on the window or fiber paneling.
- Do not use a space heater or open flame inside your car. You can use a Mr. Buddy Heater in your car, which is available at the Wenatchee Rescue Mission.
- Make sure to turn the engine off to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, not to mention saving gas and your battery. Turning it on or off occasionally can help generate heat, but don't leave it on while unsupervised.
- Make sure your car is running properly, obtain jumper cables, and emergency kits, in case your car get stuck/buried in the snow.
- Always check to make sure your gas tank is at least half full.
- Write down the location of your vehicle in case you need to call 911.
- Sleep during the day and try moving at night. You can retain heat better if you are active rather than when you are sleeping.
It is highly recommended that those who are unhoused try calling 211 for emergency shelter rather than try and face weather conditions.
If you or someone you know is unhoused and seeking shelter, you can contact the Wenatchee Rescue Mission at 509-663-4289, or call 211 for emergency resources.