Two nights ago, 482 people slept at the Siena/Francis House, a homeless shelter that has 381 beds.
On recent nights at the Open Door Mission, about 50 women and children have been sleeping on floor mats in an overflow room.
Personnel at both shelters say the spiking numbers are part of a trend. And both could use some help to serve the masses.
Siena/Francis House development director Tim Sully put out an urgent plea for more mattresses this week. Men have been sleeping in chairs and on the tile floor. Open Door Mission President Candace Gregory, meanwhile, says she has enough mats but is running low on towels and bed linens.
“We have our 50-pound washer and dryer pretty much going 24-7,” she said.
Sully said the mattresses he needs are not the kind you'd use on residential beds. They must be 78 to 82 inches long, 36 inches wide and 5 to 6 inches deep. They also must have a waterproof covering.
When hospitals or other residential facilities upgrade, Siena/Francis House sometimes gets their used mats.
“But there's been nothing like that recently,” he said.
He hopes that spreading the word in the newspaper and on Facebook will reach someone who can secure mattresses from one of those outlets. The Siena/Francis House page on Facebook has a photo of the correct type of mat.
In addition, he said, if someone were to donate money and earmark it for mattresses, “that would be a great help.” Siena/Francis House, near 17th and Nicholas Streets, also could use more canned fruits and vegetables.
Gregory said she recently asked the mission's Facebook followers to donate men's socks, because the 816-bed shelter ran out of them this week. Each man gets clean underwear and socks when he comes to the mission near Abbott Drive and Locust Street.
Since that posting, supporters have donated more than 600 pairs of socks, she said. She hopes people will respond in kind with gently used towels, linens and blankets. Even though it's warm outside, she likes to give an extra blanket to the women and children who must sleep on floor mats.
Calls to another shelter, the Stephen Center, weren't answered Friday afternoon.
Overall this year, Gregory said, she's seen a 41 percent increase in her population.
Sully said his numbers have been up recently despite temperate conditions outdoors. He said he's not sure why more people are seeking beds at the shelter, although he believes more people are homeless now than in the past.
Gregory agrees. She's seeing more women and families, more mentally ill people and more veterans. She said people are working, but it's harder to make ends meet. A mission giveaway last weekend, for example, attracted nearly 5,000 people looking for winter clothing.
“A gallon of gas and a gallon of milk are roughly the same price,” Gregory said. “There's been a 5 to 8 percent increase in utilities. More and more people are trying to stretch their dollars, and it's not working.”