As cold blast settles in, homeless shelters brace for more guests in need

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- With another bitter cold night on tap Thursday, local homeless shelters have been preparing for even more guests, and many have been getting calls asking staff to do a wellness check on a homeless individual spotted outside who may be underdressed.

It's hard for many to imagine living on the streets, especially when it gets this cold.

At the Open Door Mission, "everyone is concerned about the cold," said Matt, who volunteers in the kitchen.

As many as 1,200 people will stop by there for hot meal on such a cold day.

"We know in the next 48 hours, there will be even more people coming through our doors," aid Candace Gregory, head of the mission. "Many are veterans — many are die-hards. And they know when to come off the streets."

The Open Door Mission is on overflow-mode, and space is at a premium. The bunk room is full, so tonight, dozens of mats will be placed on the cafeteria and chapel floors to provide more places to sleep.

"I never lived on the street, fortunately. I came straight here," Matt said. "A hot meal goes a long way."

Matt has been clean and sober since 2007.

'Most of us addicts have been in and out of the system. I just got out of the federal system after 13 years," he said. "The Open Door Mission opened their hearts to me."

His story can inspire, even in single-degree weather.

"It's nice to see a regular guy go through the program," he said. "It gives them hope."

Matt is second-in-charge in the kitchen at the mission.