Cold Weather Hits Homeless Hardest

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – If you live on the streets and you know severe cold is coming, you have a mental checklist that you go through.  It could mean life or death if you live on the streets.

Nathanial Banks says he has enough layers on to make it through the night. 

“I’ve got on two sweatshirts, my jeans and my Reebok boots.”

Banks’ girlfiriend is homeless too.

“The rain came and then the snow came and nobody deserves to be out in this frigid air whether they are barred or banned they should still let them in anyway.”

She says Monday night they slep under an overpass in downtown Louisville. Temperatures fell into the teens by Tuesday morning.

She said, “We were out there anyways. We kept each other warm.”

In less than 24 hours, the temperatures dropped 40 degrees. It was Louisville’s coldest night this season.

Catherine McGeeney with the Coalition for the Homeless said, “When snow blankets the world and it’s so beautiful and people ar thinking of the holidays. It’s true, it’s more treacherous for people who have no choice but to sleep outdoors.

She says the Lousiville shelters were already at capacity even before freezing temperatures moved in.  McGeeney added, “In terms of emergency shelter beds, we’re over 300 beds before we even get to while flag stays and in terms of white flags.”

When it drops below 35 degrees, a low-barrier shelter opens. Lower barrier as in fewer restrictions.

A homeless man who didn’t want to be identified told Spectrum News 1, “There are a lot of people out here for a lot of different reasons. Some people have lack of housing. I’m a product of, I just did six years downtown for a crime I didn’t commit. I’m 55.”

Banks says he has a meeting on November 14 with the city’s housing authority which could lead to more stable housing.  Until then he’ll try to get a spot at a low barrier shelter which begins taking names at 3 p.m. He should know before dark, whether he has to spend another night on the street.