CLEVELAND — As temperatures plummet, the number of people seeking shelter away from the cold rises. Those without permanent homes are especially vulnerable to the possibility of frostbite within minutes.
“We want to remove any barrier for them to get here,” said Linda Uveges, of the City Mission in Cleveland.
She said the City Mission will not turn anyone away.
“We will not turn anybody away because we feel this is so important and critical for men, women and children,” Uveges said.
Nearly a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, shelters and organizations have tried the best they can to adapt to the spread of the coronavirus with limited space and resources as more people seek shelter in the winter months.
“We run into a lot of challenges,” said James Hido, of Sub Zero Mission in Painesville. “A lot of places are closed. A lot of places where homeless would be able to have some sheltered opportunities are technically closed because of COVID.”
Organizations working to help the homeless said those who could use the most help are sometimes the most skeptical.
“One of the biggest hurdles are probably for the individual to feel coming to a place that they're not familiar with, that might be a little bit scary,” said Uveges.
Wendy Calliens, who has been at the City Mission since 2019, said she, too, was skeptical of admitting she needed a helping hand.
“My whole way of thinking has changed since I've came here. They treat us like human beings. They don't treat us like most people would treat homeless people,” she said.
Hido said his organization is making sure people have adequate supplies to survive if they are not able to get into a shelter.
“Stay alive five. Coats, boots, gloves, hats and as you can see behind us, sleeping bags. We still made sure that we left something there for them to ensure that they made it through the night,” said Hido.