Salem cab company offering warm seats to homeless - KPTV - FOX 12

Salem cab company offering warm seats to homeless

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It’s not something you hear about every day: Cab drivers opening their doors to the homeless.

For Willamette Valley Yellow Cab in Salem, it started off as an idea to help needy neighbors, and in just a day, sparked other community members to also lend a hand.

Erin Wakefield, whose father owns the company, told FOX 12 on Friday she got the idea the day before, when she saw people complaining online that warming shelters in the city were not open, despite freezing temperatures.

Thursday, she posted on the company’s Facebook page that drivers, who already offer free rides to shelters, would allow homeless to give them a phone call and drivers would be dispatched to pick them up and allow them to sit for a few minutes, free of charge, inside a warm car. 

Wakefield said the idea snowballed from there, with drivers even offering to check on the homeless by going to areas they frequent and inquiring if they needed to get warm. She said community members have also stopped by their dispatch centers to drop off warm blankets and clothing.

“I Just wanted to make sure that we were doing what we could as members of this community,” Wakefield said. “It went a bit viral I would say.”

As of Friday afternoon, Wakefield’s Facebook post had been shared more than 100 times.

It reads in part, “We understand that our warming shelters are not yet open, for whatever reason and whoever is to blame….that part is not important. While we do not have a huge facility, we do have cars,” and further adds, “Happy Holidays and hopefully soon our city/Mayor can figure out a long term solution.”

According to the city of Salem, emergency warming shelters, which are run by nonprofit Willamette Valley Community Action Agency, are only opened if temperatures dip below 27 degrees for three or more days in a row.

FOX 12 hasn’t been able to reach the agency’s executive director, but city officials said they met with the nonprofit Friday morning to discuss the possibility of changing the rules to make shelters more accessible in winter weather.

The outcome of the meeting is unclear.

Wakefield and a few other Salem residents said homelessness is a growing issue in the city.

Homeless people can call Willamette Valley Yellow Cab at 503-362-2411. 

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