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NE Ohio Coalition for the Homeless working to get people out of bitter cold and into shelters

Posted at 6:33 PM, Dec 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-14 18:33:43-05

A man and a woman who may have been homeless were found dead in the snow on Cleveland's east side Wednesday night.

Organizations are working to bring those on the street inside, but with shelters over capacity, it's hard to find the space.

Derrick Stone has been experiencing homelessness for five years. He says, he's not sure where he will sleep tonight.

"I'll figure it out before the night comes," said Stone. "I'll figure it out. I don't know right now."

The 50-year-old says being homeless in the winter is difficult - the shelters are packed, and the demand is great.

"There's not enough places in Cleveland to house the homeless and that's the biggest problem that they're fighting," he said. "They're trying their best, I know they are because I lived in a lot of the shelters here, they're trying their best but its not enough room."

Stone and Jandean Plato are friends who met on the streets. Plato says being homeless in the winter requires lots of mobility.

"I know how to suit and boot real good, last year I had some red wings that kept my feet warm and a really good coat with a lot of pockets, to carry all of my deodorant and toothbrushes," said Plato. "I carry everything with me."

Chris Knesrick, the director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, says his organization offers to drive those without a warm place to sleep to emergency shelters in the area, like the Metanoia Project.

"We go out and connect with people we know and we ask to make sure they're okay and if they have what they need," said Knestrick.

Knestrick says during the warmer months, shelters can turn people away if there's no room. But during the bitter cold months, they must make space for everyone, which leads to overflowing even at the overflow shelters.

Stone says if he can just get through this winter alive--there's hope.

"I know there are good people in the world, and as long as I keep striving and asking people with sincerity," Stone said with a half smile. "Somebody is going to help."