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Homeless Explain Cold Nights in the Capital
Most of us are fortunate enough to have a roof over our heads to shield us from this brutal cold weather. But with lower temperatures setting in, the city of Springfield's homeless are running for shelter.
If you're homeless on the streets of Springfield, it's pretty much up to you to find shelter. Springfield police and fire officials said they'll help, but only if they're asked. We went looking for a few brave souls willing to share the story of their lives on what's shaping up to be some cold, cold nights.
They ended up here for different reasons, but at night they'll be looking for warmth in the same place.
"It's not too bad," Shawn Burke, who is homeless in Springfield, said. "Of course, you got mats on the floor."
"It bothers me a lot," homeless veteran James Bodtke said. "It bothers me a lot. It bothers me that we served our country and we just -- a lot of us don't feel like our country's doing anything back for us," said homeless veteran James Bodtke.
Bodtke, an Army veteran, earns minimum wage at three part-time jobs, but said it's not enough to keep a roof over his head and food on his plate.
"Emotionally, it's very depressing," Bodtke said. "There's a lot of anxiety."
The Salvation Army is always full. There are 33 spots at Helping Hands, and 60 at the overflow shelter.
After a series of what he called bad decisions, Burke is homeless, hoping to claim one of those spots.
"It's better than--I don't want to say it's better than jail, but it's better to be out of the cold than being in the cold, especially in this weather, to be blessed with somethign that's warm," Burke said.
The overflow shelter is the closest thing to home for many who live mainly on capital city streets. But doors open at 6:30 in the evening and close promptly at 7 a.m.
"At this time of year, we don't really have anywhere to go other than public places like the library, and they get tired of us hanging around," Bodtke said.
When they leave the overflow shelter, places like the Fourth Street Mission and Helping Hands Shelter are open as an option to keep warm. The shelters don't usually turn anyone away, but we've been told drinking is an issue. Shelter policy is that if someone has had too much to drink, that person is taken to an area hospital instead of being allowed into the shelter.
Monday night, 48 people slept at the Springfield overflow shelter. It maxes out at 60, but so far, they haven't had to deal with hitting capacity this year.