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Homeless Population At Risk During Severe Weather

COLUMBUS (Tom Bosco/Kate Liebers) -- While the arctic blast can be uncomfortable for some central Ohioans, it can be life-threatening for hundreds of homeless people in the region.

In Italian Village, people who have made tents their homes have been seeking additional layers.

Manny Blackfeather visited Franklin County Veterans Memorial this week to try to get another hat and some gloves. He said he has been out of work since undergoing a surgery on his hand, and has been sleeping in a tent for a year.

His trick for surviving the brutal conditions is to walk the city until he's too tired to care about the cold.

"As long as you walk, you're warm," Blackfeather said. "Then when you're dead tired, you go there, lay down and you pass out."

Blackfeather's tent is wrapped with a little foil for insulation, but includes no source of heat. He sleeps in a sleeping bag with two covers.

Blackfeather and hundreds of homeless men and women got a reprieve from the cold during the Community Shelter Board's annual homeless count.

Hosted at the Vets Memorial building, the homeless got haircuts, flu shots, food and medical attention.

"We actually brought in two gentlemen who are experiencing frostbite," said Sara Loken of the Community Shelter Board. "They are getting medical care right now."

Last year, the board counted more than 240 people living on the streets.

"I won't be surprised if the number is higher (this year)," Loken said. "Even though we are in a recovery, people who are in poverty have not felt any benefits of that recovery."

Blackfeather said he hopes to get back to work in the spring. In the meantime, he said his faith is keeping him going during the severe weather.

"I believe in God and he said he'd send the angels to put the wings over me to keep me warm," he said. "And as long as I have that hope in my heart, I'll survive."


 
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