Cold shelters opening for the homeless

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email
Posted by Shawn Maclauchlan

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - You may have cranked the heat up a little more before going to bed last night, but not everyone has that luxury.

With temperatures dipping into the 30's over the weekend, local shelters have expanded to make sure no one is left out in the cold.

Several homeless people we spoke to say there simply aren't enough places for them to go to stay warm at night.

The line was out the door at Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church in Richmond Sunday night, as dozens of homeless people were looking for a warm place to sleep while the temperature dropped.

Chris C. asked we not show his face. He's nineteen years old and says he's out of options for places to go.

"It's getting chilly and there really aren't a lot of places we can go," said Chris. "I usually make due sleeping out in a car, my friend's car or somewhere where I can camp out, but when it's this cold there's not many other things you can do."

Chris says he's recently gotten a job - but being homeless can be a vicious cycle.

It's hard to get a job when you have no address to put on an application, and it's hard to get off the streets when you have no job. Chris says shelters like the one at Sixth Mount Zion give him a chance to get ahead.

"As long as there's this mentality that we can be helped and we can have a place to go and everything, then I'm hoping I'll be fine and have faith in these people like they have faith in us. I'm just grateful for what I have tonight."

While budgets are being cut left and right during the recession, some say taking away funding for the homeless makes a bad situation worse.

"I'm young, but I've paid my taxes, I've paid my dues. I'm just hoping that the people can see that we're not trying to get anything out of them, we're trying to move up and help everybody out. It's a bad image, but places like this just help us out a little bit."

Shelter volunteers say they open the shelter only when the temperature is forecasted to dip below 35 degrees at night.

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