YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Subzero temperatures have more and more of the Valley’s homeless looking for shelter.
It’s estimated 300 hundred people are living on the streets in Mahoning County, a number that has spiked in recent years. These are startling statistics as this unusually cold winter has stuck around.
“Bundle up, find places that are open 24 hours a day. Just do what you got to do really,” said Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley resident Thomas Blake.
Blake knows the struggle of living on the streets too well.
“I’m here due to drug addiction for many years,” said Blake.
Many at the downtown Rescue Mission have been working to kick the habits that have forced them to the streets in the first place.
“That’s what drugs will do to you they’ll strip everything from you. It doesn’t matter if you’re white or black, rich or poor,” said Rescue Mission resident Ian Zimomra.
Blake is just one of many who have called the streets home. This winter, the shelter is seeing an average of 150 people every night, as compared to just 90 per night last year.
“Every time we make a plea for help, they just show up and show off. It’s miraculous,” said Doug Gough, Supervisor of Men’s Services.
Gough said the community has filled the chapel twice with items to keep the needy warm this winter.
“It’s been awesome. It’s been busy. Record numbers,” explained Gough.
The shelter continues to provide services for the needy, even though funding remains flat. However, those at the shelter said they will do whatever it takes to make sure those in need will get help.
“There’s so much love here, its unbelievable,” Blake said.