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Homeless Shelters Fill Up Fast in Cold Weather

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Photo: Video by nbc26.com

Homeless Shelters Fill Up Fast in Cold Weather

By Raquel Lamal. CREATED Jan 24, 2014

 FOND DU LAC, Wis.- The threat of more brutally cold temperatures is putting strain on area homeless shelters.  Many shelters are at or are very near capacity every night, forcing them to turn people away once they're too full.

Ondre Wilkerson opens new boots, a gift for just starting a new job.  He says he knows all too well the dangers for those on the streets when the temperature drops.

"I've actually slept in the park a couple of times," said Wilkerson.

Frostbite, hypothermia and death, all real issues the homeless face in winter.

"We've been open everyday for the past few weeks, it's been so cold," said Solutions Center Shelter executive director, Lindee Kimball.

Shelters like Solutions Center in Fond du Lac are extending hours, but also nearing capacity averaging nearly 19 beds a night out of the 22 allowed.  Kimball planning to house overflow in the Family Shelter across the street, currently not being used.

"The people that are at our door don't have any other sheltering options," explained Day-by -Day shelter executive director, Angie McCarthy.

The Day-by-Day shelter is in Oshkosh.  They've already had to turn people away this winter.

"It's brutal.  It's the worst thing that any human being has to do to another human being," said McCarthy.

Other shelters in the area assisting by housing the overflow, but many shelters say they can only do so much.  For the ones McCarthy has to turn away, she says she still tries to help them out.

"In those cases we give them a sleeping bag and a gift card to a local restaurant here so they can get something hot to eat and drink at least," said McCarthy.

Many of the shelters bus the overflow to shelters with more room when possible, but they say that gets expensive after a while.  A one way trip to a shelter for someone can cost up to $70.00.