Warming shelters beyond capacity in Mid-Michigan - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Warming shelters beyond capacity in Mid-Michigan

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(01/28/14) - Just a few minutes outside can be dangerous.

That's a problem for hundreds of homeless in Mid-Michigan during this brutal frigid spell.

Shelters are doing what they can to keep people safe. Resources are stretched thin by this ongoing severe weather. Shelters aren't just at capacity - they're beyond it.

It's been a rough winter for John Starnes. He is temporarily homeless after his house was damaged during the December ice storm.

"It's not by choice, it's just temporary displacement. Desperate times call for desperate measures," he said.

Starnes is one of many seeking refuge from the potentially deadly cold at Holy Angels Warming Shelter in Flint.

"We're doing alright. We stay here some nights. Especially last night and the night before," he said.

As the wind continues to howl outside and the temps remain well below zero, the shelter is dealing with troubling numbers inside as well. Sleeping capacity is 40, but Mother Nature is forcing Holy Angels to bend the rules.

"It's impossible to live on the streets in this weather. The shelters are full to capacity. We try to limit it to 40, but that whole thing has been thrown out the door because we have to expand in order to accompany everybody, so we're getting as many as 60 people at night now," said Jon Manse, of Catholic Charities.

"Put it this way, we all had to squeeze together last night in order for people to lay because you have to leave isles open and some get under tables, some get on tables, you just do what you can," Manse said.

Not an ideal situation for anyone, but the warmth outweighs the inconvenience.

Like Starnes, Janice Davis is thankful.

"It's not a place you would choose to be, but I'm glad it's here for us," she said.

Holy Angels on 5th Avenue in downtown Flint is open 24 hours. The North End Soup Kitchen, on Stewart, will be open as a warming center from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. the next few days.

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