Extended periods of cold weather help to reveal how many homeless people there are in urban areas– and reveal who are the homeless. Frank Kunz is executive director for The Cooperative Ministry in Columbia. His agency oversees the emergency winter shelter for the Midlands. He says he is seeing a changing demographic on homelessness.
“The first night the shelter was opened I met a lady that was very well dressed, very articulate, very well groomed. She came up to me, thanked me for a warm bed to sleep and she said, ‘this is my first time being homeless, I’ve been homeless for two weeks.’ She had a job,” Kunz said.
Kunz says the weather and the economy are a tough combination for the working poor. “Because of the economy she went from being working-poor to being homeless, so I think what were seeing in our society as a whole is that many of the lower-middle class are becoming the working-poor, and many of the working-poor are becoming homeless,” he said.
Local shelters were at full capacity during these arctic temperatures in the South. These shelters serve those who cannot afford to stay in a hotel when the weather is too cold.