The United Caring Service in Evansville says its White Flag program has been near capacity every night.
Just this winter, the shelter decided to make the program available nightly from Dec. 1 through February of 2022.
The White Flag program was enhanced due in part to the changes and challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to UCS, Aurora's "48 Hours in the Life: The Homeless Experience Project," where local leaders experienced homelessness first hand, also contributed to the creation of the improved White Flag program.
UCS Executive Director Jason Emmerson says that he believes an increase in homelessness in the community is also contributing to the number of individuals participating in the shelter's program.
"November was atypical, we had 11 white flag nights, typically we have two or three - and we saw use increase," Emmerson said. "Now that it is every night - maybe it's increasing because we're having it every night - but also there is, anecdotally speaking, there is an increase in homelessness in our community."
Before UCS decided to make its White Flag program available for December through February, Typically, the program was only available when temperatures dipped below freezing overnight.
Even before the nightly service began on Dec. 1, UCS operated the program for three nights last week as temperatures dropped, serving 21 people each night.
Due to social distancing measures, the program’s capacity is 45 people.