ST. LOUIS – With temperatures dropping below freezing this week, the need will grow for people dealing with homelessness to find a warm place to stay.

Snow and below-zero temperatures can be life-threatening to those without a home.

“I can’t say enough on how urgent it is that we can get people inside. Particularly on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night,” said Rev. Larry Rice, director of New Life Evangelistic Center.

Rice said they need sleeping bags, blankets, and handwarmers. You can bring them to 2428 Woodson Road in Overland.

For the first time, St. Louis City is making sure warming centers stay open 24/7.

Earlier this month, the city launched its winter operations to help support unhoused neighbors during the winter season. This includes making sure vulnerable residents can access more than 600 shelter beds, including 130 winter overflow beds.

“We do have more beds than we did last year, about 100 more at this point. We do still have shelter operators that we provided funding to that are still finalizing their locations,” said Nick Dunne, a spokesman for St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones.

“Last year, we had a warming bus, it was at Chestnut and 14th that the homeless could come into and be there and be warm from 5 to 7:30 to take them out to shelters,” Rice said.

This year there isn’t a warming bus, but Dunne said that’s because shelters are now open 24/7.

“That is not operating this year because we are now offering shelter space 24/7. So our unhoused neighbors don’t have to go outside every single say and find a new shelter bed every night,” he said.

The city is also connecting people with resources to find permanent housing. All city-funded warming shelters will stay open 24/7 until March 31.

Anyone seeking shelter or offering support to their unhoused neighbors in the city or county should contact the United Way at 211 to check for available beds.