Combined temperature, precipitation and wind must reach a “dangerously inclement” level for the temporary emergency housing operation to open, according to a Plano Overnight Warming station informational handout. Temperatures are expected to reach the mid-20s overnight Nov. 11.
Last year the station was open for more than 20 nights, according to Cathy Sweeney, an associate pastor at Arapaho United Methodist Church and a member of the Plano Overnight Warming Station leadership team.
“The need grew over the season,” Sweeney said. “We started out with an average of about 25. And then around Christmas time, it increased to about 35. By the end of the season, we were serving 50 to 65 people each time there was an event night.”
Transportation teams are sent in Salvation Army vans to three locations each night the station is open to pick up anyone waiting at the Parker Road Station, at the Downtown Plano Station or at the Harrington Library, Sweeney said.
Overnight guests are registered and fed a hot meal after arriving at the warming station. There is also a closet available with donated clothing and two showers available for use.
During the off season, the leadership team worked to better the registration process and finalize training guides and sessions for volunteers, Sweeney said.
Two homeless individuals died in freezing elements in 2017 in Plano. This spurred action from the overnight warming station’s leadership team, Sweeney said.
“The leadership team wanted to address that and put procedures in place where individuals had a safe and warm place to be so they weren't exposed to the elements,” Sweeney said.
The City Council and Plano Planning and Zoning Commission approved special-use permits for the warming station in 2018.
“If we're going to protect our citizens, we're going to protect all of our citizens,” Sweeney said. “And part of that shelter.”
One cold-weather night can require anywhere from 15 to 20 volunteers, the handout said. Volunteers are required to be 18, apply and attend training.
The Collin County Homeless Coalition’s Interfaith Group and the Salvation Army collaborate to operate the station. The Salvation Army-Plano is located at 3528 E. 14th Street.