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Inside a homeless camp where some choose sub-zero temperatures over the warmth of a shelter

Posted at 5:47 AM, Jan 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-05 06:07:45-05

With temperatures dropping into the single digits this week, Cleveland's homeless are in particular danger. Many are encouraged to leave wherever it is they stay, but it isn't easy convincing everyone.

"We're going to check to see if they're there, but we know, they could be there, they could not be," said Carl Cook, Founder of the Metanoia Project.

Cook was joined by Louis Travels, another homeless advocate, to check to see if there are any sub-zero hold outs in a homeless tent camp north of the railroad tracks on Cleveland's east side.
At the time of their visit, the six homeless people that call the tent city home, were working temp jobs.

But make your way into the large, cavernous complex of tents and you'll soon discover this tent city was made to withstand the brutally cold temperatures. Preparations to winterize the campsite started months ago. Inside sits a makeshift furnace and separate eating and sleeping areas. All, so the people that stay there, can ride out the cold.

"What I don't see in here, I don't see a lot of cans and beer cans and things like that, so what that tells me is, this is not a campsite where they're alcoholics or drug addicts," said Cook.

Just people who refuse to give up their independence, especially if that means sleeping in a shelter.

"If they want to hunker down out here, we want to help them do that, although we do promote for them to come inside," said Cook.

"They would rather be outside then come inside," said Danny, a homeless man living in Cleveland.

Danny, has been homeless for years. He has many friends who would rather spend nights outside in sub-zero temperatures than suffer the unknown in the warmth of a shelter.

"A lot of times, these places are kind of like jail. You've got everybody from jail walking around in there free," he said.

"Our men and women are so prideful, they would want to live out there, they want their independence," said Cook.

Cook founded the Metanoia Project to bring homeless people help through shelter and food. So while some may seek a hot meal at St Herman's or St. Malachi in Ohio City, they'll return to the comfort of their shelters in the cold.

"It's very brutal and I hope they survive, but I can say, we will be there for them," said Cook.

For the homeless that do choose to stay out in the cold, MetroHealth Medical Center has a doctor's program that will serve them to make sure the cold hasn't taken its toll medically.