Local shelters offer homeless population a place to cool off

People who are homeless often face an life-or-death struggle to stay warm in the winter, but it’s just as important to be able to escape the heat in the summer.

Here in Toledo, there’s a solution: St. Paul’s Community Center and Cherry Street Mission Ministries offer people a place to cool off during the day.

“We allow people to come in, even if they aren’t clients, they can come in and have respite from the heat. We always have snacks, hot, nutritious meals, our showers are open to the public, as well as restrooms, and definitely now that it’s hot we always have ice cold water available for them,” said Joe Habib, the director of St. Paul’s.

It’s more of the same a couple blocks over at Cherry Street Mission Ministries.

“We are seeing a lot of people who are homeless come inside to get out of the heat, get out of the elements,” said Kelly Schroder, the marketing manager at Cherry Street. “It’s cool in there, and we can offer them some water. We are a cooling station for those who need it.”

Compared to this time last year, Schroder said they’ve seen an 84 percent increase in homelessness.

“I’m sure a lot of that is due to the economy, the heat. A lot of people are just coming to Cherry Street Mission Ministries to get out of the elements, to get out of the sun,” said Schroder.

Even if the shelters don’t have an open bed, both places say people are welcome to come get food and spend the day in the air conditioning.

“People experiencing homelessness experience it 365 days a year, so we get the cold days and the hot days,” said Habib. “As far as we’re concerned, we are the safety net of the community whether it’s cold, whether it’s hot.”

And Habib said that providing a place for people to escape the heat is a necessity for the community.

“It’s a big thing for us because it gets hot. At least in the night time it gets a little bit cooler, a little bit better. But in the daytime I can’t work in my yard for two minutes before I have to go in and have a glass of water. People are people, they experience the same thing. They are welcome to come here,” said Habib.

Visit Cherry Street Mission Ministries and St. Paul’s Community Center’s websites for all the services they provide.