With temperatures running dangerously low, workers from local shelters are working overtime to get people in off the streets. While hundreds in the Dayton area are experiencing homelessness, most have found a way to be inside.
The gym at the Salvation Army in downtown Springfield has been turned into a temporary warming center.
“If you don’t have to go out, don’t go out,” said a man who goes only by Dave. He was squatting at an empty house, and made plans to come to the warming center after he read the forecast in the paper.
“I was only out there probably seven minutes and my hands started turning purple and stinging and getting numb,” said shelter staffer Paul Whaley.
Three emergency shelters have opened in Dayton and one in Miamisburg, and case workers with Miami Valley Housing Opportunities have been out on the streets urging people who generally stay on the streets to come inside.
The majority of people living without permanent homes do have a place to stay, particularly when it gets this cold. On a single night’s count in January 2013, 1041 people were homeless in Montgomery County, and 56 of those were sleeping on the street. Director David Bohardt of St. Vincent de Paul in Montgomery County estimated 20 people or less were outside in Dayton last night. Many of those, he says, have been homeless for long periods or are struggling with mental illness.
“Mental health is the most likely culprit,” said Bohardt. “All the data we’ve seen suggest that 30 to 40 percent of homeless persons are affected with some sort of mental illness...oftentimes for those who refuse to come in, whatever mental illness or other challenges they have are aided and abetted by alcohol or other drug issues, and in both of our shelters alcohol and drug use is strictly prohibited.”
He and men’s shelter director Lakais Bailey stressed the most important thing is that people know there is someplace warm to go.
“We’re really trying to put the word out there that our doors are open,” Bailey said.
City of Dayton emergency warming centers open 6am-9pm Monday and Tuesday:
Greater Dayton Recreation Center, 2021 W. Third St.
Northwest Recreation Center, 1600 Princeton Ave.
Lohrey Recreation Center, 2366 Glenarm Ave.
St. Vincent de Paul permanent overnight shelters:
For women and families: 120 W. Apple St., phone 937-461-7837
For men: 1921 W Gettysburg., phone 222-7350
Springfield emergency warming center open through Tuesday evening:
Salvation Army building, 15 S Plum St, Springfield