Meteorologists are predicting anywhere from one to seven inches of snow and wintry mix across the state tonight and into Saturday. The storm is a stark reminder of the dangers unhoused West Virginians face even as the region inches into Spring.
Community members in Morgantown have been gathering coats, sleeping bags and heaters for those who will be on the streets during the big storm.
Folks can get out of the cold and stay in the city’s warming shelter. But with space for just 28 people, housing advocates like Morgantown city council member Brian Butcher say it’s not enough to meet the community’s needs during this type of weather event.
“It’s heartwarming, and it’s amazing the level of support that people can get throughout our community,” Butcher said. “That level of support should not be required. In my opinion, we should have a structure upon which we could get people in housing during the winter, you know, even just a temporary shelter.”
Butcher spoke as part of a forum on warming shelters and winter resources hosted by the League of Women Voters of Morgantown and Monongalia County Thursday night, during which advocates discussed needed improvements in the city and state’s response to housing issues.
Executive director of Milan Puskar Health Right Laura Jones said that a single shelter is inadequate. Some people may not want to use a particular shelter for a variety of reasons.
“Those folks are always out there, there are always people that have difficulty with the rules or with the structure of the shelter,” Jones said. “It would be even better if we had an alternate space for people who don’t feel comfortable going to the current shelter.”
Temperatures are expected to drop into the 20s Friday night and continue to drop into the low teens Sunday morning.