Church waits on green light from city to house homeless in parking lot

[anvplayer video=”5088821″ station=”998127″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When temperatures drop, things can get really dangerous for people on the streets.

The Compassion Services Center is trying to make a difference by getting more people off the streets at night. They can get meals, a place to relax, and, beyond that, a warm bed to sleep in.

“I’m so worried that they’re going to start peeling off bodies off the sidewalks,” said Joanne Landry, pastor of the Interfaith Bible Center.

Pastor Landry runs the Compassion Services Center. Right now it can provide shelter for 25 people but they want that number to grow.

“We have a 20×40 beautiful tent, brand new, that United Way bought us. I have a thousand-dollar electric heater that would keep that thing as warm as in here,” said Landry.

She wants to put the tent up in their gated parking lot. It would add 25 more beds.

“We can save 25 more lives. These 25 will not have to go through hypothermia, they won’t have to go through frostbite,” she said.

Officials with Albuquerque Fire Rescue said they responded to 22 incidents, over four days, last week when winter weather hit. Those were cold exposure calls for people who were taken to the hospital.

That’s what happened to George Linton last year.

“I was under a blanket and I got frostbit under the blankets because it kept getting colder and colder,” said George Linton, a man seeking services at the Compassion Services Center.

He was taken to the hospital for frostbite. As Landry mentioned, he almost lost his limbs.

“At first it felt real terrible and then I started thinking about it,” said Linton. “If I lose them, God help me.”

But Landry said her opportunity, to serve even more people, is crippled right now by city requirements. They’re still waiting on the green light. She said they’re running out of time to help people during the most critical time.

“Instead of peeling people off the sidewalks, let’s make a warm place for them,” said Landry.

KOB 4 reached out to the City of Albuquerque to ask about the holdup. Officials said they are exploring whether current zoning rules would allow for this expansion.