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Cold Shelters Challenged in Brutal Weather

CINCINNATI (Joe Webb) -- Sub-zero temperatures are unbearable for everyone but they can be deadly for people living on the streets.

Emergency cold shelters were packed Sunday night and expect overflow crowds again Monday.  And as the long, cold winter drags on shelter resources are stretching pretty thin.

They've been lining up for Covington's emergency shelter an hour before it opens.  Local shelters housed more than 500 people Sunday night.  Every last bed at Northern Kentucky's only emergency cold shelter was taken.  An overflow crowd slept in hallways and offices.  Anything to at least get out of the cold.

"Last night we sheltered 82 people which is 50% above our capacity. Our capacity is 42 people and we saw 82 last night."

The most in the shelter's five year history.  All getting a bed, shower, use of laundry and a meal.  With sub-zero temperatures they are taking all comers.

Covington police who see people walking the street are sending them to the shelter.  They had people coming until 4a.m.

"We, last night, had two emergency room referrals from St. Elizabeth. People who were treated and released and had nowhere to go."

It was a similar story at the drop-inn center in Over-the-Rhine.  The temperatures and crowds triggered the opening of the county's winter shelter.

"We had 226 at our shelter and 135 at the Winter Shelter last night.  So that's almost 400 people. That's a lot of people."

Estimates of the homeless population are always disputed for a lot of reasons.  Later this week, northern Kentucky's service providers will conduct its annual K-Count, a homeless census.

"So it's not so much just counting the people it's going to be helping them. We'll be handing out winter items, food, hygiene bags. We're going to try and supply them with some necessary needs as well."

A shelter in Covington is about to lose its home.  The building has been sold to Gateway Community College.  They don't know where they will relocate but are hoping it's some place that's easy to get to.

Aast night they had people coming from Pendleton County and Gallatin County just for a warm place to sleep.

Ohio will also do its annual homeless census on Wednesday.  It's called the "Point-in-Me Count."  The count is supposed to be a snapshot of the homeless population on that date.




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