Homeless people seem to be sheltering in place and not going outside. Everything including some of the healthcare clinic sites and drop in centers are closed today, but most people are inside. The brave and hearty outreach teams have gone around to campsites over the last 24 hours to make sure people were safe. We have about 8 people who the local outreach teams are checking on regularly. The students from John Carroll, St. Ignatius, and CWRU Labre projects are still going out to check on the people they have built a relationship with over the years. The Frontline Services staff are covering the community and helping those with mental health issues or disabilities find safe places to live. Jim Schlecht, Tim Walters, Carl Cook and the other staff from Metanoia are keeping their drop in center open in this extreme cold. We are giving out handwarmers, thermal sleeping bags and thousands of blankets to keep people safe. Even with a wind chill of negative 20 degrees, people decide to stay outside under a tent and piles of blankets. One woman told an outreach worker that she was worried her stuff inside her tent would be stolen if she went into the shelter or drop in warming center.
The two big shelters are not turning people away and operating overflow shelters across the community. We do not turn anyone away who requests shelter in Cleveland, and that is especially difficult during these tough winter weather. The women over at Seasons of Hope safe haven are keeping four to six fragile women off the streets. NEOCH staff came in today despite car issues and the 57 degree temperatures inside our office to make sure that if we received calls from social service or pedestrians we could dispatch help. As one First Call For Help worker reported, it has been nice to see neighbors and pedestrians paying attention to homeless people and engaging them by asking about their safety. People have called the 2-1-1 helpline to ask for assistance for people they worry about. We are concerned that we lost track of a couple we kept an eye on during the last arctic cold spell near the freeway. They were told that they have to move because of a cleanup, and we have not seen them for a week. We hope that they decided to go inside and just haven't contacted anyone, but we are looking for them. The Stand Down staff over at Handson NEO reported such an outpouring of help from the community, they have a surplus of winter items left to distribute. We have been going over and collecting items that we need from their storage site. We will post more about the Stand Down (it was great) as we get through this emergency.
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