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COVID-19 Complicates Efforts To Shelter Homeless During Winter Storms

Workers at the Community Shelter Board in Columbus hold up blankets donated by Honda in January.
Community Shelter Board
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Workers at the Community Shelter Board in Columbus hold up blankets donated by Honda in January.

Local homeless shelters made it through the recent patch of bad weather, but like so many other things, COVID-19 added new complications to their efforts. 

Michelle Heritage, who leads the Community Shelter Board, says local service providers were able to meet the need this past week, but the pandemic made it more difficult to set up warming centers

“This year was especially challenging because many of the sites that would be normal typical sites weren’t open because of the pandemic,” Heritage explains. “So we had to work really hard to make sure that we had places where people who were still downtown or they were outside could go to get warmed up.”

Heritage also worries some likely stayed away over fears of the coronavirus.

“I have to believe that there are people that are concerned about being in a congregate setting, and that’s why the hotels that we are currently using to expand our shelters are quite ideal,” Heritage says.

Moving forward, Heritage says shelters can always use donations of warm clothing and organizations getting people re-housed could use cash.

In the meantime, warmer weather appears to be around the corner for Central Ohio.