Greenfield group to open warming shelter for anyone with inadequate heating

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GREENFIELD, Ind. – Bitter cold temperatures expected overnight could be dangerous for those who don’t have proper heat at home or no home at all.

A group called Community Organizations Active in Disaster, or COAD, wants people to know their doors are open and that there’s more of a need in Hancock County than what’s represented.

COAD says they’re ready to help, whether that’s for one person or 20 people.

“Our need is different than what you see traditionally,” said Angie Lyon, the program coordinator of the Hope House Homeless Shelter.

You won’t find many homeless people in downtown Greenfield. Officials say the need is hidden in plain sight, and in rural communities with limited resources, it’s a hard issue to address.

“We just can’t walk down the street and count how many people are living in a tent because we don’t see that as often,” Lyon added.

That’s where Jim Peters and his organization COAD step in.

“Technically, they may have a roof over their head, but not something where it’s warm and where they can get something to eat,” said Peters. “When something hits, we will be responsible for some parts of disaster recovery and work with emergency management for that.”

They’ve added opening warming shelters to their list. If the temperature is below 20 degrees or the windchill is below 15, they’ll open a shelter at a local church.

“We’ve got snacks, we’ve got games,” Peters added. “We have about 30 people who have been trained either through the American Red Cross or The Salvation Army.”

At their peak last winter, seven people sought out help. Peters expects that number to increase this year as they’re not just welcoming in the homeless, but anyone with inadequate heating.

“We want to make sure people know there’s a place to go where they won’t have to rely on unsafe, supplemental heating,” said Peters.

People can find out about when and where the COAD shelter is through the soup kitchen, the fire department and the police. The organization places signs in spots that they believe people will see them.

“If officers would find somebody out on the street that needed to get in, they know to bring them here,” said Peters.

The Hope House Homeless Shelter also refers people to the COAD shelters when they don’t qualify for their services. On Tuesday, there were 20 men and women and four children staying at the Hope House.

“It’s hard to quantify homelessness in a rural setting,” said Lyon.

Doors open at the First Presbyterian Church at 7 p.m. Tuesday for people in need of assistance. The church is located at 116 West South Street in Greenfield.

“Churches, businesses, the fire station and the police have stepped up to help out,” said Peters.

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