Cold forces overflow shelter to open

Monday night’s bitter cold prompted the city to open the Martin Luther King Recreation Center near Five Points to admit homeless who couldn’t take refuge in Columbia’s main shelter downtown.

It is the first time this year that the overflow shelter has been opened, said assistant city manager Alison Baker, adding about a dozen people stayed there.

The overflow shelter is opened when the 240 beds at the city’s main shelter fill up. The main shelter is just south of the I-126 bridge over the Broad River near Huger Street.

A communications and bus network set up for the homeless ensures that people in need can find out what shelter is available in a timely fashion and get there, officials said.