SCRANTON — While sleet pelted the outside of Keystone Mission on West Olive Street, the inside was running out of available seats.
Days like Tuesday are typically busy, but Keystone Mission is only a day shelter and has to turn people out after dinner.
“The reality of only 24 beds in the city of Scranton is definitely, I don’t know if crisis is the right word, but it’s not a good situation,” said Keystone Mission’s CEO John Gleason.
Gleason said Keystone Mission has been quietly staying open on really cold nights, since there’s only one overnight shelter nearby.
The city of Scranton is now offering to help. City Council has announced that it will open the doors at the gym at Weston Field House in north Scranton in emergency situations.
The city said Keystone can move clients to Weston Field overnight if the temperature dips below 15 degrees.
“Our guests would stay here until 9:00, and then we would move them over there and our staff would facilitate them at least being able to lay down on a mat on the floor overnight if it’s 15 or below,” Gleason added.
The city’s plan was welcome news at St. Anthony’s Haven on the corner of Wyoming Avenue and Olive Street, the overnight shelter run by Catholic Social Services.
“Here at St. Anthony’s Haven, we operate 365 days a year, and so this is a great opportunity, especially when the weather gets really bad, and it’s really cold. The numbers do rise. Last evening we had 29 individuals here,” said Catholic Social Services’ Director of Housing Stephen Nocilla.
There are only 26 beds at St. Anthony’s Haven, officials there hope the offer from the city might help bring about a more permanent solution in the long run.
“Thankfully, we’re at least halfway through the winter if not more, so this gives us a lot of time, many months, to have further conversations to be better prepared for next winter,” Gleason added.
Keystone Mission told Newswatch 16 it will provide all the supplies and volunteers needed to run a temporary emergency shelter at Weston Field.