Advocates worry about freezing temperatures after homeless man found dead

Advocates worry about freezing temperatures after homeless man found dead (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - There's a demand on Wednesday evening for a city hall investigation into a downtown death.

The body of a 59-year-old homeless man was found at a bus stop and now, with frigid temperatures upon the local area, councilmembers want answers.

This is happening just two weeks after council okayed more money for a cold weather shelter.

It can't be said that Ken Martin froze to death as he had other issues as well. He had a bad heart and alcohol problems, so the cause of death is uncertain, for now.

Councilman Chris Seelbach says in a tweet that "we must do better. Just a matter of priorities. More tax money for those most vulnerable. Less tax money for millionaires and billionaires."

Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld says that the city still needs answers, and advocates for the homeless agree.

When you depend on the kindness of strangers, making your living in a wheelchair outside is not easy.

“A lot of people call me ‘Pops.’ I guess it's because of the white beard, I don't know,” said Ken “Pops” Martin. “It gets rough in the cold, the rain. I really don't like the rain. Try to find some shelter someplace.”

Ken Martin was no stranger to homeless shelters, although this past summer, it looked like he was turning his life around with the help of a volunteer group called Maslow's Army.

Martin told Local 12 back then he was putting his troubled life behind him.

“I was happy having my little pity party and just going on about my existence, and that's all I was doing, was existing,” said Ken.

Martin's existence ended Tuesday morning. His body was found at a bus stop across from Government Square at about 5 a.m.

A couple of weeks ago, Ken Martin was arrested at the downtown Macy's for having an open container of alcohol. He listed his address at a shelter on Gest Street. It's a place where people can get a bed, a meal, but you can't force a homeless person to stay there if they don't want to.

Ken Martin spent some time in jail, for alcohol-related charges. He also did a bank robbery a few years ago, but at Prince of Peace Church in Over-the-Rhine, which also runs a shelter, Martin was remembered as a homeless man with good intentions.

“Ken came to Prince of Peace several times. I had conversations with him and I prayed with him. He was dealing with some addiction issues and was down on his luck,” said Prince of Peace Reverend John Suguitan.

At this shelter, mattresses are put out for those who need a warm place to sleep.

“We are limited to 44 mattresses because that's what fits on the floor, but on a cold night you could double it,” said Rev. John Suguitan.

Three common causes of homelessness are substance abuse, mental illness, or just a tough economic situation.

"The Prince of Peace Winter Shelter serves the homeless in Over-the-Rhine, providing shelter for those who cannot make it to other cold shelters, such as the Shelterhouse in Queensgate (formerly the Drop Inn Center). The Prince of Peace Shelter is open from 9:00pm to 7:00am every night throughout the winter months."

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