Longview shelter sees influx of homeless amid cold snap

When the temperature drops, many homeless living outside look for a warm bed. In Longview, the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission is prepared for an influx.
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 1:20 PM CST

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - When the temperature drops, many homeless living outside look for a warm bed. In Longview, the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission is prepared for an influx, and they are letting in everyone to make sure those who need help will survive the next few nights.

Outside of the Hiway 80 Rescue Mission, it looks cold, and it is.

Executive Director Brian Livingston said between the men’s and women’s shelters they can sleep about 180 people, but they are preparing for more.

“We’ve got mats that we can put out on the floor in the day room, and the hallway in the dining room, wherever we need to put somebody. We’ll make sure everyone’s in out of the cold,” Livingston said.

He said they will welcome everyone.

“Even folks that may have a restriction for one reason or another, we let them come back in when the weather is threatening like it’s going to be in the next couple of nights,” Livingston said.

He said that it can even include those who have been issued a criminal trespass warning by police.

“That one is tough sometimes, depending on the situation, because once it’s lifted it’s lifted,” Livingston said.

There are other possible infractions that would result in a restriction as well.

“Smoking in the building, or showing up drunk, or some of those things that normally we turn them away just because it will be a danger to the other people staying here. Nights like this, it would be more dangerous to be out on the street,” Livingston said.

He said they’ll supply a hot meal and a warm place to sleep. And, they will have staff who will keep an eye on things during the night. Brian said in the past they haven’t had issues with the overflow.

“Well, they know the alternative,” Livingston said.

He said when it has been cold in the past and they had more people than beds, everyone recognized the importance of the shelter.

“Very appreciative group, very humble group that’s just thankful to have a place to stay,” Livingston said.

That group has reached up to around 250 people.

KLTVs Jamey Boyum talks with Hiway 80 Rescue Mission Executive Director Brian Livingston about the influx of the homeless during the cold snap.

“We’ve got a lot of floor space that we can put mats out. I don’t know that we’ve ever reached our capacity, so to speak,” Livingston said.

Livingston said it all boils down to one thing: “We’re here to help anybody who needs the help.”

He said they have a good supply of bedrolls but always welcome in-person donations of pillows, blankets and mats. He said they could also use donations of toiletry items since they go through them quickly during times of influx.