Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ohio Homeless Shelters Already Full Before Winter Sets In

click to read full story from Dayton Daily News

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Temperatures are dropping down into the 30s in Ohio. But for the homeless population in Columbus, that's not cold enough to guarantee people shelter.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the staff at Faith Mission had to turn away 41 men and women on Wednesday because all 514 beds were taken.

The weather forecast that night was 39 degrees and rainy. All people seeking shelter are guaranteed a place to stay when temperatures dip below 25 degrees.

The homeless shelter system in Columbus has been praised for its success in getting homeless people off the streets and into apartments.

It hasn't spent money on additional shelter beds in years. Michelle Heritage Ward, executive director of the Community Shelter Board, says the nonprofit group doesn't plan to change that this winter, but it will probably have to rent additional space for temporary beds and mats.

"My great hope is that we're starting to see an economic recovery," Ward said.

Don Strasser, director of the Columbus Coalition for the Homeless, says he supports the shelter system's focus on housing, but says it might be time to be flexible with the weather policy.

"But we've never seen it like it is now," he said. "To have to tell people that there is no bed for them because it's not yet 25 degrees is a pretty terrible feeling."

At another shelter last week, 24-year-old Nicole Moberly crawled into bed. She's almost nine months pregnant and works at a fast food restaurant. She says she's one of the lucky ones.

"I see others sleeping outside," Moberly said. "There's not enough room for everyone."

People have helped her line up an apartment and she's due to move in soon after her baby is born.

"I am blessed," she said. "It's really bad out there. I saw a girl as far along as I am sleeping out in the rain."

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