Helping getting the homeless out of the cold


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Storm Team 8 is forecasting bitterly cold temperatures for the next few days in West Michigan.

While most have a warm place to stay, many homeless in Grand Rapids are left to fight the West Michigan winter.

Patrick Cameron with Servants Center spends several nights a week looking for homeless people trying to get them off the streets and into area shelters.

“There was a bed there just about a week ago, they’ve all taken off, you can see someone was keeping a fire, but there has been somebody down here recently these are all fresh,” said Cameron.

Friday night 24 Hour News 8 traveled around Grand Rapids with Cameron as he was making his rounds.

“Every once in a while the hard core folks stay and say you know what I’ll try to make it again this winter I did last winter. But already tonight the air is so brutal I don’t think anyone should be staying out tonight.”

Cameron said often those that are homeless have a difficult time choosing to seek shelter.

“Their choosing mechanism is really broken they can not make good choices and when they hear ‘oh it going to be cold out’ they think I’m tough enough to brave that weather, they can’t put all the facts together this is not weather that anyone should stay out in,” said Cameron.

During Friday nights search Cameron look at underpasses along I-196 and US 131.

“Anyone here tonight? What you can’t see in that darkest corner are a couple of ply wood sheets nailed together with blankets all around and they stay fairly warm and these are guys that say they have been out here for three winters in a row,” Cameron said.

“They’ve either gone into the homeless shelters or they found a friend that will take them in for a night or two. But that’s the problem if this weather stays around for more than two nights they tend to wear out their welcome and that’s when they get into trouble.”

Near the end of the search Cameron approached an apparent homeless women pushing a walker asking her if she had a place to stay, she continued to walk not answering if she had a place to stay for the night.

“Unfortunately that is that’s the response we get. People on the street aren’t very trusting of help right away that’s why we’ve had to go out for years and years to build relationships she’s not going to talk to me just walking up to her tonight.”

Cameron said after our search he came across a homeless woman on his way home and was able to get her a warm place to stay for the night.

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