Cold weather shelter opening in Charlotte County

Published: January 23, 2022 9:14 AM EST
Updated: January 23, 2022 10:36 PM EST

With the temperatures forecast to reach near freezing on Sunday night, the Homeless Coalition is opening a cold-weather shelter for those who need it in Port Charlotte.

The shelter is located at 1476 Kenesaw Street in Port Charlotte. 

The Homeless Coalition says it was expecting more people than average.

And those utilizing the shelter on Sunday night said they were grateful not to have to worry about being out in the cold.

Southwest Florida is bracing for near-freezing temperatures. Many, including Sandra Constentine, say they simply weren’t ready. “It was a little bit of a stunner because you’re not really prepared for it,” Constentine said. Constentine typically spends her nights in a tent in Port Charlotte.

Due to the frigid overnight conditions, she and others in Charlotte County are utilizing the cold-weather shelter at The Homeless Coalition. “You can relax and get a good night sleep. You’re not waking up every 10-15 minutes trying to pull over a blanket over a drafty area,” said Constentine.

The Red Cross is also assisting by providing cots to the shelter, as did Charlotte County Emergency Management.

The Homeless Coalition worked with these agencies throughout the day on Sunday to ensure a warm place to sleep for as many people as possible. The Homeless Coalition opened up shelter capacity.

Brittany Fining is the director of programs for The Homeless Coalition. “Our shelter residents will stay where they are in our shelter, and we’ll open up our dining room for additional shelter capacity,” Fining said.

She says she expects even more people to show up and ask for a place to stay. “We’ve seen an increase in unsheltered homelessness in general. I think we are anticipating kind of a higher-end showing tonight compared to what we normally see,” said Fining.

The people utilizing the shelter will receive food, water and, most importantly, a warm place to spend this frigid night.

For people like Constentine, every little bit helps. “Tomorrow, I’ll be a lot fresher. I’ll be more rested. You tend to get a little stressed out because you can’t get good sleep. And this cold weather really has been a bear,” she said.

If you would like more information, you can contact Todd Dunn at 941-740-1929 or [email protected]. 

As a safety precaution, the shelter did test everyone coming in for COVID-19. Fining says the Coalition’s plan for testing positive is to contact the Department of Health and find that person other resources.