While most businesses in town remained closed on Wednesday morning, the Brother Francis Shelter stayed open for an extra hour. It was the first time the shelter has extended its hours in 10 years, according to Scott Hoy, a supervisor at the homeless shelter.
“It was a pretty bad morning,” Hoy said. The shelter stayed open an extra hour “so at least they wouldn’t be wandering around in the dark.”
The shelter is usually open from 8:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m, serving a hot meal at dinnertime and providing a cold breakfast and sandwiches in the morning.
Hoy said the number of people who come into the shelter for meals has declined during the storm, as people chose to hunker down rather than brave the drifts. However, he said “hunger’s quite a motivator. If it was bad, they would show up.”
Hoy said the shelter typically sees a bump in demand for its services right before winter fishing begins, when people come into town looking for work at the canneries and on fishing boats for the season. However, he said there has been less of that this year, likely because the economy in the Lower 48 is strong.
“The economy down south isn’t driving them north like it used to,” he said.
The shelter typically hosts 15-20 people overnight, with 8-10 additional people coming in for dinner.
“They’re a pretty hearty bunch,” Hoy said. However, he said the shelter staff is “extra vigilant” when the temperature drops. “There’s a lot more contact with the police when they get inebriated. We adjust our policy as the weather dictates.”