Temperatures are forecast to dip into the single digits over the holiday weekend in Ketchikan. The cold temperatures are expected to strain the resources of one of Ketchikan’s shelters for people without homes.

First City Homeless Services’ Overnight Warming Center on Park Avenue offers patrons relief from the elements during the colder seasons. The shelter’s manager, Deborah Asper, says the shelter expects a greater need for overnight housing as temperatures dip this weekend. She says in five years of operation, the shelter has experienced over capacity and under funding. And Asper says that funds and donations have dipped significantly in the last couple of years, and that’s putting a strain on the shelter.

“Donations are always appreciated. We’re really low on meat. We rely a lot on restaurants and on the ferries to donate food and also from local people who have been hunting but we just, everybody’s kind of strapped right now and so there just haven’t been as many donations this last couple years as there usually is,” she said.

Asper says luckily, no one seeking a night’s stay has been turned away this winter, though exposure is a big concern for the local homeless population. A poll conducted by non-profit, Women in Safe Homes in 2020, stated that 65% of the homeless population who were polled responded that it was their main concern. Asper says that if necessary. they could house upwards of 20 people, though she says that for the average 19 that they house regularly it’s already a bit cramped.

First City Homeless Services is working on renovating an overnight shelter, a structure given to them by the city of Ketchikan in 2020 following growing concerns for housing the homeless population during the peak of the pandemic. The facility first opened last winter, but shelter officials say they’ve moved back to the old warming center at First United Methodist Church on Main Street this winter to allow renovations to the Park Avenue shelter to continue.

“So we are in the process of building a new overnight warming shelter. We do have an overnight warming shelter inside of our day shelter right now it is cramped, but we’re trying to just do our best right now. We do not have the funds to stay open for 24 hours. So our participants do have to leave between one and four, but we’re working on that as well. Hopefully soon we will have the funds to do that,” she said.

To celebrate the holiday, the Overnight Warming Center will serve a crab dinner for their participants on Christmas day.

First City’s Overnight Warming Center is located at 400 Main Street during the months of October through March and is open to patrons starting at 8 p.m. each day, closing at 6 a.m.