With temperatures dropping, more people who are homeless are now looking for places to warm up. Mt. Carmel's outreach team was helping people Thursday at the Holy Family Soup Kitchen in the Franklinton area.
According to the Community Shelter Board more than 1,000 families and 5,500 single men and women are in emergency shelters in the Columbus area. Workers said there is a lack of affordable housing that forces too many onto the streets.
Richard Ferguson, 65 said he went to the soup kitchen for a meal, but was able to get connected with medical help and a temporary place to stay until he can find more permanent housing. Ferguson was a Columbus firefighter who said he made some bad choices and dealt with difficult medical challenges and surgeries. He has been recently sleeping on the streets in a place he called "between a rock and a hard place."
"I have some hope again and a direction and without that there is no place to go. If you have no direction you can wind up anywhere and I am tired of being nowhere," said Ferguson.
Mt. Carmel's outreach team was giving people in need warm coats, gloves, scarves, and blankets. But they are asking for more donations to cover demand.
Maureen McDermott is a Registered Nurse and has worked with the team for 23 years. McDermott thinks about the homeless when she is off duty.
"We know that there are probably way more homeless people living on the land than is ever counted , there's more families children without housing. Affordable housing is just not out there," said McDermott.
The Community Shelter Board said the numbers of homeless families in the area appears to be going down by about 2.6 %. They will have a new count in January.
Directors said homeless data shows low-wage jobs are increasingly behind people without housing.
"Need knows no age , need knows no color, it knows no religious convocation because we all need at some point through the course of our life," said Ferguson.
The homeless man told the nurse how thankful he is for the help.
"It gives you the ability to stand on your own two feet physically and mentally.
I used to be what they would call a survivor but it ain't easy to survive on those streets anymore, when it is like this with no place to go."
People who would like to donate blankets, coats, gloves, or other outer wear or money can go to Mount Carmel corporate offices across from Mount Carmel East at 6150 East Broad Street, Columbus 43213.