Freezing temps send hundreds to Columbia's homeless shelters - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Freezing temperatures send hundreds to Columbia's homeless shelters

Harold James, who died from freezing temperatures this weekend Harold James, who died from freezing temperatures this weekend

By Jack Kuenzie - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Cold weather is now a major concern for the city's homeless, and those who try to provide for them. Over the weekend, frigid temperatures claimed the life of one man who was familiar with life on the streets. Homeless advocates are working to prevent another incident.

Even in the daytime, it's been cold enough along with the gusty winds we've been getting to become very uncomfortable if you're not bundled up. But at night, we're talking about rough conditions for those who don't have proper shelter.

There are hundreds of people in downtown Columbia who will need a place to go tonight and over the next few nights.

With gusty winds and temperatures dropping below freezing this week, anyone out on Columbia streets overnight faces life-threatening conditions.

The city has already logged one death due to exposure. Over the weekend, authorities located the body of 80-year-old Harold Kenneth James.

James suffered from dementia and needed a walking stick to get around, but at least he was no longer homeless. He'd been living at the Finlay House development in Five Points.

Then, for reasons still unclear, James disappeared last Tuesday. The search for him ended over the weekend when police found his body under the Blossom Street bridge, a place frequented by the city's homeless. Authorities say James might have ended up under the bridge, surrounded by trash and graffiti, because he remembered it from his days on the street.

Columbia's main winter shelter on Calhoun Street has been open at night for more than a month. Capacity there is around 240, and there is an overflow shelter at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park on Greene.

Christ Central Ministries spokesman Larry Johnson says the main winter shelter is already close to capacity. "It's not adequate," he said. "We need more shelter. We need more ways of helping people work their way out of poverty. And their spiritual welfare and education is truly the beginning."

Johnson says some of the people he deals with will actually choose to stay out in the cold, even when there are openings at the main shelter or others scattered around the city. "They're either too crowded or they feel there's not enough organization," said Johnson. "So it's just a lot of people that will, that choose to be out in the elements."

The problem of finding temporary shelter will be eased somewhat by the opening next year of the Midlands Housing Alliance center at Main and Elmwood.

Related Stories:

Copyright 2010 WIS. All rights reserved.

  • South Carolina news on WIStv.comNEWSMore>>

  • Plans unclear for reuniting separated immigrant children

    Plans unclear for reuniting separated immigrant children

    Friday, June 22 2018 6:06 AM EDT2018-06-22 10:06:01 GMT
    Saturday, June 23 2018 4:35 AM EDT2018-06-23 08:35:02 GMT
    (AP Photo/David J. Phillip). Jesus Funes, 19-months, cries as his mother, Diva Funes, both immigrants from Honduras, holds him after being escorted back to Reynosa, Mexico, Thursday, June 21, 2018. The family, who was seeking asylum, said they were tol...(AP Photo/David J. Phillip). Jesus Funes, 19-months, cries as his mother, Diva Funes, both immigrants from Honduras, holds him after being escorted back to Reynosa, Mexico, Thursday, June 21, 2018. The family, who was seeking asylum, said they were tol...

    About 500 of the more than 2,300 children separated from their families at the border have been reunited since May, a senior Trump administration official says.

    More >>

    About 500 of the more than 2,300 children separated from their families at the border have been reunited since May, a senior Trump administration official says.

    More >>
  • In reversal, Trump orders halt to his family separation rule

    In reversal, Trump orders halt to his family separation rule

    Wednesday, June 20 2018 11:21 AM EDT2018-06-20 15:21:21 GMT
    Saturday, June 23 2018 4:33 AM EDT2018-06-23 08:33:40 GMT
    A boy stares out of a heavily tinted bus window leaving a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility Tuesday in McAllen, TX. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)A boy stares out of a heavily tinted bus window leaving a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility Tuesday in McAllen, TX. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

    Trump signs executive order to keep families together at border, says 'zero-tolerance' prosecution policy will continue.

    More >>

    Trump signs executive order to keep families together at border, says 'zero-tolerance' prosecution policy will continue.

    More >>
  • Lawyer: No apparent justification for fatal shooting of teen

    Lawyer: No apparent justification for fatal shooting of teen

    Thursday, June 21 2018 8:22 AM EDT2018-06-21 12:22:06 GMT
    Saturday, June 23 2018 4:16 AM EDT2018-06-23 08:16:16 GMT
    (Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP). Leonard Hammonds II, of Penn Hills, right, points out that a Turtle Creek Police officer has his had on his weapon during a rally in East Pittsburgh, Pa., on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, at a protest regardin...(Steve Mellon/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP). Leonard Hammonds II, of Penn Hills, right, points out that a Turtle Creek Police officer has his had on his weapon during a rally in East Pittsburgh, Pa., on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, at a protest regardin...

    Hundreds of people took to the streets to protest the fatal police shooting of a 17-year-old boy killed just seconds after he fled a traffic stop during a confrontation partly captured on video.

    More >>

    Hundreds of people took to the streets to protest the fatal police shooting of a 17-year-old boy killed just seconds after he fled a traffic stop during a confrontation partly captured on video.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly