It was 2 p.m. yesterday and Roger Jordan, sitting in a hallway at a shelter for the homeless at Fourth and D streets NW, shivered each time a gust of cold air blew through the glass front doors. Homeless since New Year's Eve, Jordan had no place to go.
"I've been here since 8 a.m. trying to get in," he said. "They told me to come back Tuesday or Wednesday."
For Jordan and a growing number of homeless people in the Washington area, the New Year heralds little hope for more shelters.
"We've been filled for the last few months," said Mitch Snyder, whose Community for Creative Non-Violence operates the downtown shelter where Jordan waited. "Every night -- sleet, cold, snow -- it's the same. The number of homeless grow, but the beds do not."
As the Washington area braced for a snowstorm and below-freezing temperatures, Jordan sat, bundled in a blue hooded jacket and unlined black gloves. He said he dreaded another night of aimlessly walking the streets to keep blood circulating.
"If I go back out there," Jordan said, "I'll freeze to death."
Evicted Thursday from a Hyattsville apartment, Jordan, a janitor at a federal government building, repeatedly had been turned away from shelters overflowing with people.
Yesterday afternoon, Jordan walked a few blocks to a Salvation Army shelter on First Street NW, but he was told no space was available. He returned to the Community for Creative Non-Violence lobby to wait.
"I'm going to stay here until they tell me to hit that door," said Jordan, clenching a rumpled sleeping bag.
The shelter, which is undergoing a $14 million renovation, can house about 625 homeless men, Snyder said. Yesterday, several homeless people, including Jordan, were turned away because there was no room, staff members said.
"When it's cold and snowy, it makes life miserable and uncomfortable for everybody," said one staff member.
Even though the shelter plans to add about 1,000 beds in the next few months, hundreds of homeless people will be without a warm place to sleep, Snyder said. He estimated that 4,000 to 7,000 homeless people are on the streets each night, unable to find shelter or too mentally ill to seek help.
"The horizon looks bleak," Snyder said.
According to a recent study, requests for emergency shelter in the District have increased 30 percent in the past year.
Other shelters reported overflow crowds. The Central Union Mission, at 14th and R streets NW, was filled to capacity Saturday night, said staff worker Ben Holland. He added that homeless men probably would have to be turned away again yesterday when the shelter reopened at 6 p.m.
New shelters are filled almost as soon as they open, said Robert Rich, the mission's executive director. Last month, the District government set up two mobile trailer shelters at Eighth and O streets NW to house 36 homeless men. Rich said the trailers, staffed by Central Union Mission volunteers, have been filled to capacity every night. When the trailers open at 6:30 p.m., he added, men are lined up to register.
District officials plan to open four more temporary trailer shelters in the next few months, Rich said. The 48-foot-long trailers, donated by a bank and a real estate firm, are equipped with 18 bunk-style beds.
Yesterday at the Community for Creative Non-Violence shelter, small groups of men milled around in the lobby, talking, helping to unload a truck of donated shoes and preparing to eat fast-food dinners.
Several stopped to chat or offer advice to Jordan. "Whatever you do, don't stop walking in the cold," said one man. "Because if you do, you stop booking."