Winter plus COVID-19 equals a looming homeless crisis

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OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – Officials say there are now an estimated 300 homeless individuals in Ohio County.

Now, with the colder months ahead, there are complications in this year of COVID-19.

Shelters will be limited to the numbers they can house with social distancing mandates.

Some homeless camps are being torn out.

Women and children are no longer allowed in certain shelters.

So, advocates for the homeless are reaching across the state line to the Belmont County Salvation Army to try to keep people out of the cold.

They are looking at possibly opening up the Winter Freeze to just women and children right now since there is no one over in Ohio County that can really take the abundance of women and children that we do have. That’s why we’re kind of crossing state lines and I’m the acting liaison with Belmont County Salvation Army, YSS and Kate Marshall of House of Hagar.

Angela Goodson, Information Helpline Executive Director

We want to try to accommodate the people out who especially as this weather gets colder. They’re gonna become more vulnerable. But, if we need to, we have a room downstairs we could maybe put cots on. WE could take a certain population, maybe male, bring them all down there and then begin to use some of our male rooms upstairs and some of our family rooms.

Major Louis Patrick, Belmont County Salvation Army

He added they could create a day shelter as well as an expanded overnight shelter.

Major Louis Patrick also said he already has one family at the shelter in Bellaire who are Wheeling residents, but who have no place to stay there.

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