TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) — The cold is setting in across our region, and for the unhoused, that means it’s vital to find a warm place to sleep.

Shelters across the region like Haven of Rest and Salvation Army told News Channel 11 they’re seeing an increase in need, and that’s raising concerns going into the winter season.

“Right now, we are pretty much at capacity,” said Brian Plank, Executive Director of Haven of Rest. “I think that the same can be said for a lot of the other homeless shelters in the area.”

Shelter directors said there are several factors increasing need this winter.

“A lot of it is the camping laws that have been enacted, people are wanting to try to stay off the streets,” said Plank. “We are seeing a net loss of affordable housing at this point.”

Across the Tri-Cities, the Salvation Army reports it’s experiencing a 50% increase in food requests and a 33% rise in housing and shelter assistance.

“We have noticed is even during white flag, the Salvation Army shelter operations are at a 15% increase of people needing assistance,” said Captain Benny Carringer, Salvation Army. “When you have that increase in your sheltering, and you’re providing those meals as well, you got to think of the food cost that comes along with that.”

The Salvation Army estimates in the last year shelter costs have increased by 6%, food costs by more than 13% and electricity costs by nearly 16%. Those changers are making it harder to provide services to the increased number of those in need, but they remain determined to provide help.

“If you see people out that you think may be needing shelter, and it’s going to be below freezing, make sure that they know [to] come here or the Salvation Army,” said Plank. “Our first priority is to preserve life. We want to make sure they’re taken care of.”

Shelters say the community can make a difference by making donations like food, jackets, and blankets to help those who head to shelters for assistance this upcoming winter.

Salvation Army Tri-Cities

Haven of Rest