Homeless shelters are pushing capacity in order to house more individuals during the cold weather spell. In order for the homeless to sleep inside shelters, temperatures need to drop below 45 degrees.
St. Francis House can host up to 80 extra people during cold weather conditions. The shelter, which houses families and children, also requires a “blue card.” This blue card, which is free and issued by the Gainesville Police Department, lists whether the individual is a sex offender or has outstanding arrest warrants.
To get a blue card, an individual presents a valid ID to GPD, who checks with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office for warrants and sex predator status. GPD spokesman, Officer Ben Tobias, said that the process to get a card is not a background check.
In the event that they cannot house an individual, St. Francis receives support from other shelters, like Grace Marketplace, which does not house families or children.
Kent Vann, executive director of St. Francis House, stressed that although safety is their first priority with the blue cards, he hopes everyone sleeps inside.