Continuing cold air takes a toll on local shelters - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Continuing cold air takes a toll on local shelters

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MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) -

(02/26/14) - It will be another night of extreme cold in Mid-Michigan - and that will mean a full night in many homeless shelters.

The continuing cold air is taking a toll on local resources.

When it's this cold outside, that means the cost of heating gets to be pretty expensive at local homeless shelters. Several in our viewing area just can't see to get a break.

The cost of heating increased this year at shelters like My Brother's Keeper in Flint by least 20 percent compared to this time last year.

The shelter has reached capacity. Between 15-20 men are housed in the emergency shelter and 15 in the veterans center.

Several other shelters in our viewing area are also full.

Patrick McNeal, the executive director at My Brother's Keeper, says his shelter will make room for those who don't have a place to sleep on days when it's extremely cold outside. He says that because they haven't had much relief at all, the higher costs of heating hasn't made it any easier.

"Fifteen to 20 percent in a organization with a small margin for error makes a huge difference. The heaters and things run. We try to work as efficiently as possible and so we use the thermostats to cut on and cut off, but when the weather is like this, they just don't cut off for a long period of time," McNeal said.

For the past six months, Mark Lindsay has been staying at My Brother's Keeper in Flint. He's been looking for a job since 2012. This brutal weather makes him grateful for the homeless shelter.

"I'm just thankful that I have a warm bed to sleep in here and I'm really appreciative of that," he said.

Lindsay says he's not sure how he would have made it in the cold weather if it wasn't for shelters like My Brother's Keeper. Although he won't be homeless much longer because he recently accepted a job in Tennessee, he says he still thinks about those who are out in the cold.

"You see people standing on the side of the roads holding up the signs and it just breaks your heart. It's so cold at night," he said.

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