With the onset of another winter, Ann Arbor’s homeless community is once again faced with the problem of surviving the cold by securing one of the limited number of beds available at shelters.
LSA junior Stephanie Watson, who volunteers at the Robert J. Delonis Center, a homeless shelter on Huron Street, said she observed serious problems with overcrowding during last year’s holiday season.
“There are only a certain number of beds,” said Watson. “One night two men came in, they just got out of prison. But there weren’t enough beds so they got turned away. They were given blankets, but that’s all (the shelter) could really do, so they were sleeping on the streets.”
Watson said another problem with the shelter was that all its occupants are forced to leave at 7 a.m. “The mentally ill are stuck wandering around Ann Arbor during the day. There is no place to go,” Watson said.
But although the holiday season can be tough for the homeless, Randy, a homeless man who is now staying at the YMCA’s temporary shelter, said he chooses to focus on what he is grateful for — namely, the Ann Arbor Homeless Outreach, which rescued him after a personal injury this year.
“I had a broken ankle for two and a half months. I tripped on a 40 (ounce) bottle when it was dark,” Randy said.
With the injury, Randy said he was put in a difficult position. He was living under a bridge near the hospital, and he no longer had the mobility required to go to and from the shelter for food. It was then, when Randy said he felt like he was at rock bottem and that the Ann Arbor Homeless Outreach volunteer group gave him a hand.
“As soon as I broke my ankle, I wasn’t going to (the shelter) for meals, so they found me,” Randy said. “They gave me some hope. They got me a room and put me on medication. It’s going pretty good now.”
Randy said his ankle had been broken for about a month, but he was unable to get a cast because University Hospital employees told him he had to call a bone specialist for his injury. Because Randy didn’t have a phone, he said getting a cast would have been impossible without the work of Outreach.
“Outreach found out (my situation), called and got an appointment for me,” he said.
Harvest Missionary Community Church acted as another group to lessen the load of the holidays for the homeless, said LSA senior Stanley Kim, who along with seven other members put on a Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 24 at the YMCA.
Kim said they hope to continue their outreach by making the dinners a monthly tradition.