Kearney Center prepares as homeless population faces winter

The Kearney Center. Photo courtesy: Kearney Center

The Kearney Center is a non-profit organization that was established in 2015 to provide services to the homeless or people who are on the verge of being homeless.

It is located on Municipal Way not far from Tallahassee Community College. During the daytime you may see a variety of homeless people in the surrounding area because check-in time starts at 8 p.m.

The center accepts new people every day but certain restrictions apply.

With winter around the corner the shelter is prepared to see an increase in the number of people who are needing services.

Vicki Butler, 41, director of operations at the Kearney Center, has been working there for about two years.

“During the winter we have something called cold night shelter where we open up overflow bedding when the temperature is below 35 degrees for 3 hours,” Butler said. “We also get in contact with partners in our community like First Baptist Church in downtown Tallahassee and help people get shelter there for the night when we’re at our upmost full capacity,” she added. “I have the best job in the world and a fantastic team that goes above and beyond for person. Even in tricky situations they stay professional, I’m very proud.”

A photo of Broeckel taken after her interview with McClendon. Photo courtesy: Wendy Broeckel

Wendy Broeckel, 51, a mother from Chicago, has been in Tallahassee for two years now.

“We get a lot of help out here. They never turned their back on anyone during the cold,” Broeckel said. “I’m not working at the moment, but they try to give me resources to things that help me. During cold nights it gets full fast, so I try to get here before the sun goes down so I can have a spot for the night. They give us clean sheets, food and all the things we need.”

Tanya Delgado, 47, a widow who goes back and forth between Orlando and Tallahassee, became homeless after her husband’s passing in 2019.

“I live in Tallahassee the most during the year because they make it easier for me to get my benefits here,” Delgado said. “This shelter has never left me hanging during the winter. I never had problems with getting in when it’s time for bed, the staff makes me feel like I belong somewhere because people on the street don’t.”

According to world population overview there are about 27,487 homeless people in the state of Florida. The increase in homelessness in 2022 is believed to be caused by the lack of affordable housing since the pandemic began.

Tallahassee has 10 homeless shelters. You can reach someone by calling 2-1-1 and support is available 24 hours a day to provide resources that best fit your needs.