Community Shelter Board Prepares To House The Homeless During Winter Weather

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For hundreds in central Ohio without shelter, sub-freezing temperatures pose a very real risk.

The Community Shelter Board reports a startling increase in homelessness over the last three years:  up by 79% for families, and 16% for single adults.  This week, the Shelter Board is taking extra steps to make sure all of those people have someplace to go.

The Faith Mission, like other Columbus area shelters, went on “Winter Overflow” mode in October.  Despite adding 70 beds, the shelter has been full every night for the past month.

"We typically have 110 men and right now we have 180,” said Faith Mission Executive Director Sue Villilo.  She says there is currently a waiting list of men looking for shelter.

"We know that there are more men waiting than we have capacity for, because every time we open up new capacity, it gets filled up immediately.  Right now all families and all single women that are in need of shelter are getting shelter. We have a good handle on those numbers, but we really don't on the number of men who may be out there waiting."

But with temperatures below 25 degrees, this week the Community Shelter Board will be utilizing motel rooms to make sure anyone who needs shelter will get it.

"If someone has been turned away from shelter because shelters were full, they may not think that they would get in if they try again.  But they should try again,” said Vilillo. “So at least people are inside, they're safe, they're warm, and at least we can help them the next day try to work out some other plans."

If you are in need of shelter, or know someone who is, here are the hotlines you can call:  For single men and women, the number is 888-474-3587.  Families should call 614-253-7970.

Several central Ohio churches are also opening their doors as warming centers during daytime hours.  Click this link to see where the warming stations are located.

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