Advocates help keep homeless warm in downtown Cleveland

Organizations like NEOCH and FrontLine Service have been out handing out coats, blankets, and sleeping bags to those living in homeless encampments.

CLEVELAND — With the reported increase of homeless encampments in and around downtown Cleveland, homeless advocates were nervous for the cold weather to arrive this fall and winter. As possible freezing temperatures and possible snowflakes approach Tuesday night, these advocates stayed busy making sure those without shelter stay warm.

“It’s already terrible that anyone is sleeping on the streets of our city,” Chris Knestrick, Executive Director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, said. “It’s even more heart wrenching when it drops below freezing and people are still outside. This is always, for our organization, a time of crisis where we know people freeze to death on the streets of Cleveland when it can get this cold, and so we’re always very concerned.”

Since Tuesday morning, organizations like NEOCH and FrontLine Service were out handing out coats, blankets, and sleeping bags to those living in homeless encampments, many of them who were already sleeping in tents.

“When the temperature gets low, these are individuals who we pay particularly close attention to,” William Kelly, FrontLine’s outreach program manager, explained. “We do everything we can to reach every single person to get them everything they need to make it through this weather.”

They’re also pointing people to where they can find shelter, with NEOCH telling 3News there are currently about 250 people sleeping on Cleveland’s streets. Knestrick is heavily anticipating the opening of seasonal overnight shelters in November, hoping they get the proper funding they need for it.

“Typically, we have around 100 beds in seasonal shelter,” he stated. “We are concerned because right now we only have one agency that’s offering 30 beds, so we’re lower capacity, and we’re kind of waiting on the city and county to kind of give our partners some more money to be able to open up more space.”

WKYC asked City Hall about this concern, as well as about their feelings on the homeless enduring Tuesday night’s frigid temperatures. They sent us the following statement:

“We sympathize with those experiencing homelessness, advocacy organizations, and the broader homeless community. We urge those who need shelter — as well as those connected to these individuals — to contact the County’s Office of Homeless Services who provides emergency shelter referrals and alternative services.

“We’re working hard reviewing options to see what we can do at the city-level to help support this population at this time. It’s extremely important to us. We appreciate the partnerships we have with advocates, nonprofits, the County, and other groups as we all work together toward a solution.”

Those in need of shelter can call Cuyahoga County’s Coordinated Intake at (216) 674-6700. Coordinated Intake is the front door to emergency shelters for individuals and families with no place to safely sleep.

https://www.wkyc.com/article/news/local/cleveland/advocated-keep-homeless-warm-downtown-cleveland-freezing-weather/95-e264099c-74a0-4301-a4b5-6d142e6c744b Advocates help keep homeless warm in downtown Cleveland

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