Cold and Homeless

Houston’s “big chill” is expected to stick around for a while with temperatures tonight once again expected to dip below freezing. Imagine sleeping outside with nothing to keep you warm like some of Houston’s homeless. Bill Stamps stopped by a local agency to see what they’re doing to help.

“You planning on staying outside tonight?”
“Well, if I don’t have a place to go, I will.”
“Well, we do have some blankets in the van if you, sir, need another blanket.”

Valerie Jones is an outreach worker talking to a homeless man near downtown.

“I know I was raised not to be like this. My family didn’t raise me to be out here like this, but I guess it’s just a challenge for me to see what it’s like to be out on the street.”

Jones is with SEARCH Homeless Services of Houston. She and three other workers have hit the streets to pass out blankets and help the homeless get ready for the big chill.

“One of them said he’s fine with staying out at night. You know that’s his choice, but if they express an interest in going to a shelter, we can sometimes offer them a ride and take them directly there. That way they don’t have to worry about walking or anything.”

They run into another homeless man. His name is Lloyd McGlaun.

“I’ve been out here five months and it’s been of the long longest five months yet.”

McGlaun says he’s sleeping on the street this evening, because the shelters won’t let him take all the stuff he has with him inside. He says he doesn’t need a blanket because earlier in the day a man dropped off a new sleeping bag for him.
“He said he used to be on the streets a long time ago and God blessed him and got him up off the streets so he wanted to come help the homeless since it was cold.”

The outreach workers want to do more than pass out blankets. They talk with the men and get their stories. They’d like them to stop by their agency so they can help them deal with the issues that put them on the street in the first place. Bert Whaley says both he and his wife are homeless, but they’re hoping to find a nice warm bed tonight.

“Right now, I’m hoping my wife is supposed to be going to her sister’s house to get some money so we can stay in a hotel cause I know it’s going to be cold.”
Jones and her team aren’t able to make all the rounds on this trip. There are simply too many people out on the streets. They hope most of them make it to a shelter, but at the very least have plenty of blankets. Over time the workers have built relationships with some of the homeless and thinking about them out in the freezing cold is not a pleasant thought.

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