Outside the meeting, Jennings estimated 30-40 people are out on the streets of Allentown on non-Code Blue nights.

Baumann said 325 different people stayed at Safe Haven in his church last year. He said some stayed only one night, but one person stayed
140 nights. He predicted Safe Haven again will shelter more than 300 different people this winter.

Jennings also commended City Council for responding to the challenge, saying many elected officials in this country "completely ignore this issue."

Conference of Churches

The Lehigh County Conference of Churches is trying to take the lead in evaluating on the need over the winter, through the different shelters and warming centers that are open, said Deanna Best, housing director at the conference.

She added: "And we want to take the lead on a plan for next year, so we have a plan ready to go."

Three weeks ago, the Conference of Churches opened a warming center in Alliance Hall on N. 6th Street. People can stay there Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

Only one person per night stayed there during the first weekend, said Best, adding as more people found out it had opened, that number increased. She said seven people stayed there last Sunday night.

Best said the gym in Alliance Hall comfortably could accommodate 25 people, "if not more."

She said they get a bottle of water, a blanket and a place to stay, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., although they must leave by 6 a.m. on Mondays.

Asked by Eichenwald if the conference is considering opening Alliance Hall on weeknights, Best said the YMCA on 15th Street in the city now is open on weeknights.

Eichenwald said she appreciates what the YMCA is doing, but the hours the homeless can find shelter in the YMCA --10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. - are problematic and an enormous concern.

"The hours are awkward for some of the people that need it," agreed Guridy.

"There is no system of organizing various faith-based buildings in the community?" asked Eichenwald. "It's cold."

"Not at this time," replied Best. "We're still evaluating the situation. It's cold, but there's still shelter space that's open"

Homeless men also can go to the Rescue Mission, women and children can go to the Salvation Army and anyone can go to Safe Haven at St.
Paul's.

During the meeting, the Code Blue polices of the Rescue Mission and Salvation Army to help the homeless also were shared with council members.

Eleana Belletieri of the Salvation Army told council it has not seen any real change in the number of people seeking emergency shelter this winter, despite the colder temperatures.

Safe Haven

"Safe Haven was never supposed to happen," Baumann told council. "It came about because people were sleeping on the benches around St.
Paul's.

"We're trying to deal with a population that other people would much rather just forget,"

He said many people have found "family" at Safe Haven, as well as safety and security.

The pastor said in its first year of operation, less than 10 people usually stayed in Safe Haven. He said the numbers doubled in the second year and remained "in the 20s" last year. He said when cold weather arrived this winter, they had as many as 42 people for the first time ever. He said that number has dropped back to 32 since the other two warming centers opened.

"Our numbers are still high, but they're not as high as they were a month ago." Those high numbers of people sleeping at Safe Haven are what spurred homeless advocates to tell City Council Allentown needs more shelters.

Baumann said some people "reluctantly" have gone from Safe Haven to the YMCA and Alliance Hall since they've opened to the homeless.