Homeless confront the cold

By: Alicia Gentile Email
By: Alicia Gentile Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. The temperatures may be dropping, but the number of those seeking shelter and warmth is on the rise. And with limited options for the homeless in our community, confronting the cold can be challenging.

Struggling with homelessness is difficult on its own. Add freezing temperatures and trying to keep your family warm to that equation and you have what Robert Morris is facing.

“It's pretty difficult going into the cold like this and trying to find a place to warm up during the day," said Morris.

Homeward Bound is one of two homeless shelters in Grand Junction. They're only open at night and are feeling the influx of people due to the extreme winter weather.

“Overcrowding yes, our numbers have increased well over 100 individuals last night, we are running the emergency shelter program," says Douglas Karl the Executive Director of Homeward Bound.

According to Karl, the cold climate the homeless face during the day is taking a toll on their health.

“Some of the individuals coming in are coming in with broken fingers. They're slipping and falling as they're walking," said Karl.

There aren't many options for the homeless when the shelters' doors are shut.

“It's the library, it's the mall, folks that are trying to seek places that are warm," said Karl.

Fortunately for Morris, his two sons stay warm in school for most of the day, but after the bell rings, they face the same struggle he does when it comes to finding a place to go. A problem he says the community can do something about.

“There could be other options for people who are out there in the cold, if somebody would step up somewhere," said Morris.

The Rescue Mission is the other homeless shelter in the valley, which offers a place to sleep for the homeless, but is limited to men only. Officials at The Mission say so far they haven't seen overcrowding, but they are full every night.

Homeward Bound says even though they're crowded, they haven't had to turn anyone away.

Both shelters accept donations year round and in the winter months, jackets, boots, and blankets are greatly appreciated.


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