AVL Code Purple Alert

AVL Code Purple Alert

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Organizations are providing emergency overflow shelter to homeless people due to temperatures dropping below freezing temperatures. 


What You Need to Know

Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Coalition issued code purple alert

Shelters are expanding their capacity to house more homeless people during dangerous weather conditions

The additional shelter space will be available through Dec. 23


These actions come after the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Coalition issued a code purple alert from Dec. 19 through Dec. 23. 

Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry’s Costello House is one men’s shelter site opening up during severe weather. 

“This is critical. This is life-saving what we’re doing. Hypothermia is a real thing. Pneumonia is a real thing. Flu is a real thing,” ABCCM Director of Homeless Services Tim McElyea said. 

The shelter has 50 beds available at the shelter. 

“What’s important to me is that we can help the people that we’re helping. If we can fill these beds, there is code purple. I’d love that,” Operation Manager John Whitt said. 

The latest Point-In-Time count in Asheville done in January of 2021, showed out of the 527 homeless people in the city, 116 of them are unsheltered.

Tom, who spent Tuesday night at the Costello House, said he’s been outside in below freezing conditions before.

“It’s scary because if you don’t have the right stuff, the blankets and the clothes, you can die from it,” Tom said. 

Tom became homeless this summer after losing his job. The 57-year-old is grateful to have a safe and warm place to spend the night. 

“This is like a mini vacation. This is like going from Alaska to sunny Florida coming in here,” Tom said.

He’s been living on the streets on and off in Asheville and Pennsylvania after his wife passed away in 2017.

“My wife got sick. We didn’t have enough insurance. The bills accumulated,” Tom said. 

He’s trying to get back on track, working day labor jobs and trying to secure housing with the support of an organization. In the meantime, he’s grateful to have a place to stay where he can eat a warm meal, do laundry, shower and rest.

“I have an excellent night sleep. I’m not sleeping on the cold ground, and I don’t have to worry about something waking up, saying you are trespassing, you have to leave or someone messing with my stuff,” Tom said.

The Salvation Army offers overnight emergency shelter for women and children during this time. You can contact 828-253-4723.

The code purple is active through Dec. 23. 

According to police, issues of trespassing and setting up tents on private property have become a concern. Recently, a tent encampment near I-240 was cleared. Police state that there were 20 complaints or reports of serious criminal behavior at the I-240 encampment and others, including sexual assault, stabbings and serious drug use.

Police said organizations provided services to the campers and helped them relocate. In addition, they said the removal of the large encampment didn’t result in any arrests.

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