Overcrowded shelters are forced to leave some out in the cold

By: Kristen Shanahan Email
By: Kristen Shanahan Email

ARDMORE, OK -- As it begins to get more frigid outside people without homes and electricity may start desperately looking for a place to keep warm, and local homeless shelters are beginning to worry they will have to turn people away as they are already too full.

The down economy forced countless people and families out of their homes and onto the streets. The National Alliance to End Homelessness says homelessness is most often caused by job loss and other economic factors, and one Ardmore shelter says they have seen the problem firsthand. They are overwhelmed and they have already had to turn several people away.

Maggie Goodman has been living in her car since May, but Saturday she found a temporary home at the Bethlehem House of Bread - a homeless shelter in Ardmore.

"This morning was so cold. I went outside and I said oh thank you, you know, I was like grateful. You know, and we were talking in the kitchen and somebody said 'it feels a little cold in here', and I said put on long sleeves. Just be thankful that we're not out there in the cold this morning," Goodman said.

Goodman was not always homeless. As the price of gas and other necessities went up her part-time job salary just was not enough to get by.

"I just hope that people realize that, you know, not everybody wants to be homeless. It's not that everybody's got problems," Goodman said.

Harry Scott who has been living at the shelter for a year now says after losing his job in the oil fields he was almost left with nothing and no place to go.

"Situations happen in life, and I just really got to where I needed a place and they were here for me," Scott said.

Shelter Director Ted Clark says they have been blessed to help people like Goodman and Scott get back on their feet, but with only about 30 beds they have even turned Clark's office into sleeping space and still have already had to turn away at least five people.

"It just hurts your heart. It just hurts your heart because you have to feel what if that was you, your sister, your mother, your daughter, or your father, or some family member, or some friend," Clark said.

Clark says they may not be able to let everyone in, but it warms his heart to know that over eight years they have helped more than 1,000 people from across the country start a new life.

"I thank the churches. I thank the people. Not only for their physical and financial help, but for their prayers and we pray that the Lord will make a way for us to increase to where we'll have more room where we won't have to turn people away," Clark said.

Clark says they are always taking donations, especially pillows or blankets. If you'd like to donate visit Bethlehem House of Bread's website at www.bethlehemhouse.webs.com.

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