Findlay’s homeless finding shelter with family, friends

By LOU WILIN
STAFF WRITER
Most of Findlay’s homeless are holed up out of the cold, like everyone else, a homeless shelter official said Monday.
The homeless heard the weather forecasts, too, and arranged to stay with family or a friend during the subzero weather, said Dewey Harris, mission director for the City Mission of Findlay homeless shelter.
City Mission, at 510 W. Main Cross St., had several additional visitors Monday because of the extreme cold. One man who was staying in his car was brought to the shelter by Findlay police, Harris said.
But it was not a big day at the City Mission.
“Most people know that the cold’s coming, so they’re going to stay where they are at. We don’t have in Findlay a population living underneath a bridge somewhere that is huddled around a 50-gallon oil drum, keeping warm” from a fire, Harris said.
“Here, homelessness is more people living from couch to couch. So the couch that they are living at, they are not going to kick them out into the cold. But if it’s 40 degrees, they might.”
In fact, one man checked out of the City Mission Sunday night when a concerned family member invited him to live with him.
“We do see that in this kind of situation, as well, where family members will be a little bit more compassionate and they will work with their brother or sister,” he said. “Maybe in the warm weather, they would not have.”
Milder temperatures are safer for wandering the streets, and walking, the only transportation mode available for most of the homeless.
It will be safer when the temperature rises to the teens on Wednesday. Harris anticipates the homeless will walk to the mission then and form a line in the dining room at dinner time.
But one man staying at the mission since Friday trudged 1.2 miles to get to work on time Monday morning, only to learn his employer, Freudenberg-NOK, was closed. Brian, 31, turned around and hoofed it back to the mission.
“My face got cold, my hands got numb,” he said.
Harris hopes that those who are missing dinners at the City Mission are being sustained with food boxes which the mission distributes every Tuesday and Thursday. The boxes contain fruits, vegetables, breakfast bars, meat, eggs, milk and other items.
During extreme cold, the City Mission relaxes some of its rules. It normally does not accept registered sex offenders, but it waives that rule in extreme cold.
“In this kind of weather, I’m going to provide a warm place for that person as well. I’ll figure something out,” Harris said. “Normally I’m not going to allow a registered sex offender to stay here because I have women and children staying … But I’m going to do everything I can to keep somebody out of the cold.”
Another exception in extreme cold: those who are drunk or high on drugs.
“We don’t allow people to be intoxicated or high here. I’m not going to allow an individual who is high to go upstairs and sleep next to someone who is 48 hours sober, because that could be a trigger for them. I wouldn’t want to sleep next to a guy that’s high,” he said. “But in this kind of weather, I’m going to provide a safe place for both. (For) the individual who might be intoxicated, it might not be as comfortable, but my main concern is keeping someone safe.”
Wilin: 419-427-8413 Send an E-mail to Lou Wilin

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