- Associated Press - Saturday, December 3, 2016

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - Bethel’s homeless shelter has opened a week early after a severe windchill dropped the temperature to 40 below.

Bethel Winter House opened its doors on Monday, almost a week ahead of schedule, KYUK-AM reported (https://bit.ly/2h5sBos).

The shelter serves meals and hot coffee to about a dozen people each night and provides Bethel’s homeless population with coats and warm blankets.

There are around 600 homeless people in the region, and many of them live in Bethel, according to a study done by AVCP Housing. “Here in town there’s probably close to 100,” Winter House board member Ben Charles said.

The shelter decided to open because the weather posed to great of a risk, Charles said. “We came to the decision that it’s too cold for our clients to be out there. The risk of someone dying by exposure is way too high,” he said.

The Winter House is in the Salvation Army building in Bethel. All services are offered free of charge, and no drugs or alcohol are allowed on the premises. The shelter is staffed by two people from 9 p.m. until the following morning.

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Information from: KYUK-AM, https://www.kyuk.org

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