CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Homeless people in Chattanooga are seeking shelter as we get ready for the coldest night of this winter. With colder nights ahead local shelters are fighting to find the funding to keep their doors open.
With a low of 18 degrees on Thursday night, Chattanooga native and homeless man Steve Thomas says it's hard to survive without shelter, "yes it is. It's a good thing they're opening this up tonight for people to survive."
With just a few hours before dark on one of the coldest nights of winter, the Community Kitchen had to scrape and claw to find volunteers and money to pay at least one worker to comply with insurance regulations.
It's a hustle that could have been avoided.
The mayor's office says the Homeless Coalition failed to request funding in this fiscal year.
Knowing winter and these low temps were coming, why wasn't it taken care of sooner?
"Situations occur it didn't get done. I was on the board and not the executive director then. I don't have an exact answer to that question," said Stephen Wright the Executive Director of the Homeless Coalition.
Wright took over as executive director in June, about the time the fiscal year was set to start. Wright and the Coalition didn't submit the paperwork until September.
He says they've been working non-stop since then to present their case to city council in hopes of emergency funding, "the steps that are needed to move on with that process have been done."
Wright says the ball is now in City Council's hands. Council meets again on Tuesday. Nothing is guaranteed, and the Community Kitchen says if funding is turned down it will be hard, but it's nothing they can't adapt to.
Thomas will rely on the Community Kitchen for shelter, he's thankful but doesn't understand why things weren't taken care of on time, "they should apply ahead of time. I just left Oklahoma, and I've already experienced a winter there. Two weeks before Christmas it snowed seven inches. I'm gonna try to get priorities together and go forward."