Libraries offer relief from cold for homeless

libraries offer shelter to homeless

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – At the height of Saturday’s snow storm and Sunday’s bitter cold, some of those caught outside in the frigid conditions found some warm shelter at an unlikely place: their local library.

“We had some people from the homeless shelters here,” Library Deputy Director Deborah McCullough said. “And they came, and they were also going through our lost and found department and giving people gloves who didn’t have gloves and scarves.”

Across Youngstown’s north side, workers with the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley found places to sleep for about 160 people Sunday night. Temperatures dropped well below zero, forcing some of those living in the homeless ‘tent city’ along the river downtown to come in from the cold.

“We’ll see a slight bump in numbers due to the weather, but it’s not a significant increase,” Mahoning Valley Rescue Mission Director Jim Echement said. “We’ve been at the same level, 120 to 130 people all summer.”
Directors say they’ll even make room for those just looking for a hot meal but be in no real hurry to go back outside.”

“We give them a little bit of extra grace when they come in and they want to sit there,” Echement said. “As long as they’re not taking a seat from someone else.”

In the meantime, the Library’s director said that those seeking shelter can also take advantage of the different programs and services the different branches offer.

“If you are out there, or you need a place to get warm, we are one of those resources for you,” Library Director Heidi Daniel said. “Our main library, in particular, is open ’til 9, so we’re here in the evening.”

That could come in handy with even more very cold conditions expected later this week.

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