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This is the first winter we don't have our tent village OR our day center.
If you aren't regularly working with homeless people living on the street, let me tell you what is happening.
Mayor Horrigan just closed a major camp last week which has made many people frantic. They are looking for places to hide and prepare for the impending onslaught of a Northeast Ohio winter.
The Farmers' Almanac says we are going to have a freezing, frigid, frosty winter this season.
Homeless people are looking for garages, abandoned houses, sheds, places to hide a tent.
Even after they shut down our tent village, our day center which offered food, indoor shelter, showers, laundry and warmth still was up and running ALL winter long last year. We easily served 50 or more homeless people every day last winter. We opened at 7am and stayed open until 11pm all winter long.
That is all gone. They closed everything down. We now have a $12 million building getting ready to open with fancy apartments and retail stores directly across the street from us. Middlebury is the new entertainment district of Akron. Homeless people are simply too ugly for this new, fancy neighborhood. (I had my first sighting of a hipster chick walking past my building holding a Starbucks coffee late last week.)
But the homeless people are still here. They hide from the government. Being seen is the most dangerous thing they can do for the next 6 months. If they are seen they will be kicked out of their location. Finding a new location and setting up a new camp has to happen within one day otherwise they risk dying from exposure to the elements.
No matter whether you agreed with what we did or not, it is undeniable that Akron has created a major setback for itself in helping homeless people survive the winter months of Akron Ohio.
In fact, during the mayoral debate, Mayor Horrigan said "I always thought a day time drop in center would maybe help."
(I have to really fight back my sarcasm, but...)
I agree Mayor. I always thought a day time drop in center would maybe help too. That's why we created one.
In fact, we had everything (other than the tiny homes) that Josh Sines flushed out in much greater detail than Dan Horrigan did.
You can watch that part of the debate here:
This isn't just some first world problem we're talking about here. We're talking about life and death issues here. People that had a place to go now no longer have that place.
Where are they going to go this winter?
Is our city going to address this need?
Do they know that hypothermia can occur when you are exposed to cold air, water, wind, or rain. Your body temperature can drop to a low level at temperatures of 50°F.
Look at our night time temperatures already:
It's going to get down to 39 degrees on Friday night. That's already in dangerous territory.
These homeless people that have been abandoned by our city government are clamoring to get into one of our 2 transitional houses. We are constantly being forced to push them out because we aren't legally allowed to have more than 6 people in either house.
They are starting to get panicky and desperate. It feels like we have 2 lifeboats with people drowning all around us. We are legally forced to not be able to help these people.
Does Mayor Horrigan have a plan for these people?
The mayor has answers for all these questions for every single animal in Akron Ohio. But does he have any answers to these questions for the American citizen human beings living in his city?
WHAT IS THE PLAN MAYOR HORRIGAN?
We need to know the plan so we can help these people live through winter.
We must demand that Mayor Horrigan and City Council tell us what their plan is for all the people living on the streets of their city this winter. This is a dangerous situation. All the homeless people I talk to are scared and don't know what they are going to do.