Homeless shelter sees an increase in demand as weather cools down

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - As the temperature continues to drop, the more people line up to get assistance from a Twin Falls homeless shelter.

Sharon Breshears, the executive director for Valley House Homeless Shelter, said they see many people at the door needing food, clothing and sometimes a home.

"We have been inundated by people this week that are in need," she said.

Breshears said on Monday, there was just one person after another needing assistance.

"Because it was getting cold. Some of them had been sleeping in cars, some of them have been on couches," she said.

While Breshears said the shelter is busy all year long, she does see an influx during the colder months.

"People need to get out of the weather. They can die out in the cold," she said.

Amanda Hernandez lived in her car just a little more than a month ago. She was referred to Valley House by her probation officer.

"Before I came here, I was hooked on heroin and methamphetamine. I lost my kids to the Department of Health and Welfare," Hernandez continued. "(I) was in a relationship that was toxic. I had no where to go."

Before coming to the shelter, Hernandez said she saw herself going to prison and her kids going to another family.

"In that world I was in before, I was so alone and the world I am in today, it’s just love comfort and peace here," she said. "It feels amazing. I know I can go to sleep every night and I can be warm. I know that I can wake up and know I'm not alone.

The shelter is a place that gives residents hope, help and a home.

Before coming to the shelter, Rebekah Manuel said she couldn't afford medicine for her mental health issues.

"I didn’t have a job and we tried to stay with family, but that’s always hard especially when you have little kids," she explained.

Manuel was then referred to the shelter and talked to Breshears.

"Because of her and this place, we were able to have a solid ground for starting over. It was a hand up rather than a hand out and they had tons of advocates and resources for myself and my girls that helped us get spiritually grounded and my mental health issues met," Manuel continued. "My girls are able to go to school, have transportation, have clothing and their needs met."

Manuel also has a job now.

"I work at the Valley House now. Sharon was able to get me a job and it’s amazing. The feeling of giving back is awesome," she told KMVT.

Manuel and her children live in the transitional apartments that the shelter also owns. She hopes to move out of those apartments one day as she's currently learning how to manage her own budget.

Breshears said their shelter right now can hold up to 90 people a night. The apartments holds 22 families that are transitioning. She said the shelter is also planning on building a ten-plex as well.

"That’s going to be the next step for our families so we’ll be able to transition people in just a lot quicker," she said.

Not only does the shelter give those in need a place to sleep, they give them other resources as well.

"They can come and they can get coats for the families and they can get the things that they need. So we're here for them," Breshears said.

The shelter also gives food boxes too.

Breshears asks that if you're driving around town and see someone who may be homeless, tell them about the resources available.

"They might not know where to go and sometimes they don’t want to come into a homeless shelter, but people should tell them," she said. "Say 'Hey there’s a homeless shelter in town. They’re here to help you.' We can help them or we can refer them to the resources that they need."

Breshears added that the organizations in town constantly work together.

"That word goes out and if they go to the Salvation Army, the Salvation Army is going to tell them about Valley House. If they go to Health and Welfare and they tell them if they need housing, they’re going to refer them over here," she said.

Breshears said that with the constant help from the community and their partnerships with organizations, they're able to continue doing their service. She added that even though they have some coats and clothes right now, they are always in need.

Anyone in need or wants to donate can stop by the shelter located at 507 Addison Ave W. in Twin Falls or call them at 208-734-7736.

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