Those Forced To Sleep Outside Battle Near-Zero Temperatures
It’s more than just dangerous outside, it’s dangerous for the city’s homeless.
According to those who track the homeless, between 600 and 700 people sleep outside every night in Columbus.
Some find creative ways to survive.
“It’s hard; it’s very hard, and it’s very cold,” said Stanley, who asked that 10TV News only use his first name.
Stanley said that he has been homeless for months and visited the Open Shelter on Tuesday in search of warm clothes.
He said that sleeping outside has not been easy.
“I can’t deal with it,” Stanley said. “I found a mattress instead of sleeping on the ground.”
Kent Beittel, the chief operating officer of Open Shelter, said that the current near-zero weather conditions are extremely dangerous.
“We just don’t’ have adequate appropriate space for everybody who is out there,” Beittel said.
He said that the stockpile of donated clothes, gloves and blankets are flying off of his shelves, adding to the problem – the lack of temporary places for the homeless to get warm.
Four days a week, an outreach team from Maryhaven checks in on those living in the estimated 50 homeless camps ni Columbus.
“Last week, Maryhaven outreach came to a camp and picked up a family of two little girls – 10 months and 22 months,” said Nickole Warner, an Outreach Support Specialist with Maryhaven.
Darel Jennings said that he has been homeless on and off for seven years.
“It really doesn’t get cold until 3, 4 a.m., and that’s when it hits you,” Jennings said.
Jennings built a hut out of plywood to try to protect himself from the elements. He said that he has all the comforts of home.
“I got my heater right here,” Jennings said.
He also has a TV powered by a battery.
“I got my DVD player right here.
When his propane tanks become empty, he said that he starts a fire with refuse from his camp.
He said that the life he has is not the one he wants, and he prays that he finds permanent housing soon.
Until then, he and others do their best to try to keep their bodies warm.
“It’s pretty hard,” Jennings said.
Because of the deep freeze, the need for emergency warming stations has forced several churches to open their doors to help those living outside.
Those wishing to donate clothes for the homeless can call 614-222-2885.
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