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County’s homeless in need of a warm place to sleep

Last updated: January 04. 2014 11:58AM - 790 Views
By William Duffield Staff writer



William Duffield | Gazette photoThe new sign at McKinley Elementary said it was 7 degrees Friday morning, but some might say that thermometer is reading too high and the temperature was actually closer to zero.
William Duffield | Gazette photoThe new sign at McKinley Elementary said it was 7 degrees Friday morning, but some might say that thermometer is reading too high and the temperature was actually closer to zero.
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XENIA — Temperatures are expected to dip into the negative early next week. Monday’s low is forecast at minus-2 with a high of just 3 above zero. Tuesday is to be worse — a low of minus-14 and a high of zero. That will be followed on Wednesday, when a low of minus-8 is predicted with the high going to a “balmy” 14 degrees.


According to the American Red Cross, individuals can take steps to battle the cold, such as wearing several layers of lightweight clothing, and be sure to wear hats and gloves to keep body heat from escaping.


It’s also suggested that if a person feels dizzy, exhausted or is shivering severely, get help as those are all symptoms of frostbite.


Those who have a friend or relative who lives alone should make sure to keep tabs, just to make sure the person is OK.


This is all well and good for those with warm homes with a cozy fire. But what does that mean for the homeless of Greene County?


Christ Episcopal Church, located at 63 E. Church St., is one solution. The church operates an emergency shelter for individual homeless people.


“We’ve steadily had 15 people per night and I’m sure that will go up with the cold,” Carol Conway, director of the shelter, said. “But, unfortunately, we just don’t have the space or resources to take in homeless families.”


Conway said families who are homeless should contact the Community Action Partnership, who will help them fill out an application for permanent housing.


“Most (of CAP’s open spots) are for families, but I think even those are full now,” Conway said. “I believe they opened (for the winter season) Nov. 15 and they’ve been full ever since.”


She added that CAP works with groups like the American Red Cross and Interfaith Hospitality Network to help find homes for these families.


Pat Hobbs of IHN said there is no emergency help for families in the county.


“We only have a 60-day shelter,” Hobbs said. “You have to apply and go through the system. That is a major problem in Greene County. There is no overnight help for families.”


Hobbs said that doesn’t help much when temperatures are forecast to hit lows of minus-14.


Homeless individuals are housed at Christ Episcopal Church each night.


“We open at 7 in the evening and we close at about 7:30 each morning,” Conway said. “They can come in and we fix them a meal. Then about 9 or 9:30 each night, we take them over to the YMCA for a shower — the women first and then the men. Then, they have their chores. Some do evening chores, some morning chores. They vacuum, they wash dishes, things like that.”


She continued that, during the day, those individuals who spend the night might be staying warm at the Y or the library, both of which are neighbors to the church. But if those places aren’t open, then it’s back on the streets.


Conway said the program is always thankful for donations of food as well as monetary contributions.


“Every little bit helps,” she said.


Contact William Duffield at bduffield@civitasmedia.com or 372-4444 ext. 133.


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