Despite record low temperatures, Weatherford’s homeless don’t seem to be suffering from the cold, Cpl. Wendy Field, Weatherford Police Department public information officer, said Thursday, but where they are going to avoid it is an unanswered question.
“I visited with patrol officers, with Lt. Villareal,” she said, “and they haven’t had any issues dealing with exposure. Honestly, I don’t know where they go. We don’t have a night shelter in Weatherford.”
Field said the police department has seen “a handful” of homeless people in the past few weeks, but “nothing compared to the information that I’ve read coming out of Fort Worth and Dallas.”
The department expected to see migrants, she said, when a large tent city camped off Lancaster Street near downtown Fort Worth was dismantled in mid-January, but that has not proven to be true.
“We haven’t had a large increase in the homeless,” she said. “But we have investigated a few for criminal activity. We’ve had some reports of them hanging out around businesses, and we’ve made sure that they’re not doing anything.
“Our complaints have been from truck stops, convenience stores and gas stations along the Interstate. They seem to congregate around truck stops where they can catch a ride.”
An administrative assistant at Love’s Truck Stop at Interstate 20 and Bankhead Highway said Thursday that homeless people would not be obvious among the large number of truck drivers waiting for the roads to clear.
“But if they were, I certainly wouldn’t put them out,” she said. “Not unless there was some other issue.
“They’ll get a cup of coffee and sit in the dining room. We’ve had them sleep in a booth. You have to stay somewhere when it’s 9 degrees.”
On occasion, the truck stop has allowed homeless people to take free showers at Love’s, too.
“There’s not a whole lot we can do to help people who have nowhere to go,” the administrative assistant, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “but that’s one way.”
Tony Spence, general manager for Petro Truck Stop on Santa Fe Drive, said the truck stop doesn’t get many homeless people, but the ones who do come are seldom content to just sit in the game room.
“They ask for money and a ride, and then we get complaints and have to ask them to move on,” he said.
“As close as we are to Dallas and Fort Worth,” he said, “I think most people head there, where there are shelters.”
In addition to complaints, the police department gets calls from motorists who ask them to check on the welfare of people they see, Field said, and the community does offer help.
“At the Center of Hope, they can get a bite to eat,” Field said, “and a lot of different churches will assist individuals there.”
At this point in time, Field said Weatherford probably doesn’t have a big enough homeless population to make a shelter a necessity.
“I don’t think it’s gotten to that extent,” she said, “but down the road, who knows? Weatherford is growing like crazy.”