Vigo County officials working to establish warm shelter program for homeless

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Vigo County officials are working to establish a warm shelter program for the homeless.

Homelessness is an issue that continues to seriously impact Vigo County.

“When we did our count in July of this year, we estimated over 600 people. Realistically you take that number and multiply it by 3 and that’s probably your actual impact,” said Brendan Kearns, Vigo County Commissioner.

Among the estimated 600 homeless in the county are people who sleep outside and face weather conditions.

To assist the homeless when temperatures are extremely cold, Kearns says commissioners are in the process of establishing a warm shelter program.

“We ran into this last year with the polar vortex where we had people sleeping outside. So a group of us were able to get a plan together to get people housed but then we realized we had to get something for formal,” Kearns said.

Through this program, Kearns says the county has worked with four locations, including the Vigo County Fairgrounds and Reach Services, that would open their doors to the homeless when the EMA declares the weather to be extreme.

Kearns says there will also be staff on hand to make sure they are providing safe care.

“They will all have specific to help with those people, most of it is focused on mental health care,” Kearns said.

And Kearns says while some of the homeless are reluctant to find help, he hopes this program will give them they assistance they need.

“They need somebody to pull them aside and explain to them ‘Hey if you stay out in this cold weather, you’re probably going to die or be severly injured. Let’s get you the help that you need,” Kearns said.

Kearns also says the county is coming closer to finding ways to fund a day drop-in shelter.

He says this type of facility would provide the homeless with an address, making it easier for them to do things like finding jobs.

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