Warming shelter opening is Friday

Library patrons look for books at the Norman Public Library Central, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. The former central library location on Webster Avenue will open as the city's temporary warming shelter Friday. (Kyle Phillips / The Transcript)

The city's warming shelter is now expected to open at 8 p.m. Friday. The final supplies are set to arrive Thursday.

Check-in is from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday in the former library at 225 N. Webster Ave., and checkout is 7 a.m. Saturday. The original target opening date was Tuesday, but with supplies still coming in and the finalizing of the budget and contracts the date was moved.

The city's committee to address homelessness spent its first month to tackle a temporary three-month warming shelter. A warming shelter is similar to a homeless shelter, but offers temporary refuge for those trying to stay out of the cold weather.

"We have everything needed for a shelter. We have bed mats and of course blankets, and all of that will be covered with the cleaning company contract," said Michelle Evans, the city's homeless program coordinator.

Norman Regional Health Systems donated several supply items including toiletries, and several local churches donated toiletries and personal-hygiene products. The shelter also received computers and scanners for check-ins.

Capacity in the warming shelter is 50, and trained Continuum of Care partners in the shelter will access those who enter for their needs and to get them housing assistance, which Evans said is the ultimate goal.

Evans said since the shelter budget is still being finalized it is not available for public release. The committee's goals don't end with the opening of the warming shelter, she said.

The committee will continue discussions while troubleshooting with the warming shelter at 10 a.m. every Tuesday in city hall. It will also begin discussions for a permanent day shelter and long-term resources for the city's homeless population.

The committee finalized signage for hours of operation and no responsibility for lost or stolen items, rules and policies, the arrival of supplies and the pet process since no pets are allowed in the shelter during a committee meeting Tuesday. Sereta Wilson, Ward 5 council member, owns Annie's Ruff House with Kate Bierman, Ward 1 council member, and offered its services Tuesday.

Rayna Cumbie, the committee's Continuum of Care co-chairwoman, said through Annie's Ruff House individuals at the shelter will receive temporary overnight boarding services and assistance in triage situations.

"Basically we want to be able to bring individuals into the shelter regardless of pets, because we do know that people do have pets," Cumbie said.

Individuals checking-in are only allowed one bag. The bags will be stored in one of the side rooms near the library entrance, and Cumbie said they will allow one backpack for individuals to keep on their person.

There will be bike locks available outside, and those who check in will be assessed and required to sign a rules and policies waver.

Clarification: In the Dec. 4 issue of The Norman Transcript Rayna Cumbie, the city’s homeless committee Continuum of Care co-chairwoman, said the warming shelter would require documentation from individuals with service animals. She said if individuals do not have documentations they would be accommodated at Annie’s Ruff House. However, after doing additional research Dec. 4 Cumbie said the committee found it will not be able to ask individuals for documentation on their service animals in accordance with the ADA. She said the committee is continuing research on this aspect.

Katie Standlee


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