People wait over 6 hours in the cold to get into the George R. Brown Convention Center

Monday, February 15, 2021
People wait over 6 hours in cold for shelter at George R. Brown
Some people in line said this was their last hope to find warmth before the temperatures plummet.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For over six hours, a long line of people in search of shelter stood huddled together waiting for the doors of the George R. Brown convention center to open.

Many said because of COVID-19 there was no room in other shelters and that this was their last hope to find warmth before the temperatures plummet Sunday night.

A staffing delay pushed the opening from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. As Houston prepares for a serious winter storm, the city's most vulnerable are just looking for a place to get warm.

SEE ALSO: Warming stations and shelters open throughout the Houston area

"They gave out a list, a resource list, I called them and it's the same thing - everybody is not opening due to the COVID-19 restrictions," Houston resident David Barker said.

Officials designated the George R. Brown Convention Center as a place those without a home could find warmth and protection from the freezing temps for two to three days, staffed by city employees.

Irvin Smith said he's been sleeping out of his car after losing everything during the pandemic.

"Just too cold to be sleeping out of my vehicle at this time," Smith said.

The historical cold is not stopping some Houston families from spreading the love to the homeless population.

"Yeah, they had some snacks and something to just hold us over until. But then you have other people that [are] just passing out gloves, socks and certain clothing for a lot of people as well," Smith said.

People rushed out of line with the hopes of grabbing a donation.

"You know we only had 20 and the first 20 people got them and it is what it is. But at least, if you can help somebody, you're helping somebody," Eric Vanswearingen said.

The mayor said he hopes that with the help of both METRO Houston and Yellowcab they can encourage homeless people who don't want to leave the streets for whatever reason to come to the shelter for the next few days. Officials said with over 500 spots available you will not be turned away.

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