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Butler County works to protect homeless and needy during cold stretch

With freezing temperatures forecase throughout the region through the weekend, Butler County agencies are working to help the homeless and those in need get through the dangerously frigid weather.

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office, for instance, has opened its lobby on Hanover Street in Hamilton.

RELATED: Man froze to death at a bus stop in Cincinnati, group says

“When it’s this cold, it’s very important” to have a place for the homeless to stay, said Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones. “You’re not looking at thousands of people, but it’s the humane thing to do.”

The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for central, southwest and west central Ohio, as well as several regions in Indiana and Kentucky this week. Temperatures dipped below zero degrees early Thursday morning, and a shot of snow is expected to occur Friday night, according to the weather service.

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Today’s high is expected to be 21 degrees, and Friday’s high is forecast for 28 degrees. Sub-20-degree weather is predicted for the weekend with the low Saturday night into the morning of New Year’s Eve dropping back down to near zero degrees.

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On New Year’s Day, the high will be near 16 degrees with an overnight low dropping down to 2 p.m. Tuesday’s highs will reach close to 20 degrees.

Jones said he wished other government agencies would open lobbies for the homeless but understands the protocols necessary to make that happen — such as ensuring restroom facilities are available and having the staff to stay overnight — and said, “usually the burden falls on us.”

Those staying overnight in the sheriff’s office lobby can’t remain during the day, and Jones said they typically don’t, because “we’ve got to be open for business.”

“Shelters, this time of year, are all filled up, and it’s tough,” he said.

They often go to shelters open 24 hours, like Serve City’s Chosen at 622 East Avenue in Hamilton. Executive Director Linda Kimble says when it gets frigid outside the organization doesn’t turn anyone away.

“We can’t get everyone a bed, but we can get them inside from the cold,” she said.

Anyone coming in from the cold must be in the shelter by 11 p.m., and it’s first-come, first serve for beds. There are 40 beds for men and 12 for women. Those who don’t get a bed receive a blanket and a pillow, she said.

Kimble can’t guess how many men and women will utilize the shelter during the upcoming cold spell.

“We’ll probably be at capacity at the end of the week, would be my guess,” she said.

AREA SHELTERS

Here’s a list of homeless shelters. Some provide overnight shelter, while others provide shelter 24-hours a day.

  • Haven House Emergency Shelter: 550 High St. in Hamilton (emergency shelter for homeless families and single parents)
  • Serve City Chosen: 622 East Ave. in Hamilton (shelter for men and women, open 24 hours/7 days a week)
  • Hope House Rescue Mission: 1300 Girard Ave. in Middletown (temporary shelter for women and children); 34 South Main Street (temporary shelter for men).
  • Shalom Emergency Shelter: First United Methodist Church, 120 S. Broad St. in Middletown (nightly shelter for men, women and families from December to March; periodic random drug testing conducted)

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