Friday, December 4, 2009

Cold Weather Emergency Program - Part 1

One of the projects I have planned is what I will call "blogging the Cold Weather Program." I hope to feature stories and articles relating to this collaborative project that began 20 years ago. The next CWEP (Cold Weather Emergency Program) entry will be from Bob Altman of Help Hotline, the CWEP project coordinator.

This article appeared in the Youngstown Vindicator on Wednesday, Dec.2, 2009. It is available from

YOUNGSTOWN — Last winter, 263 people in Mahoning County sought emergency shelter from the cold. With the economy still struggling, there is no reason to believe that this winter season will see any fewer needing help, said Bob Altman of Help Hotline Crisis Center. Homeless individuals and families often sleep in their vehicles, abandoned buildings, doorways or anywhere they can to get out of the cold, said Altman, coordinator of the Mahoning County Cold Weather Emergency Shelter Program.

Many stay with family members or friends, but “doubling up” usually lasts only a short time as the overcrowded conditions may lead to problems, he said. The goal is that no one freezes to death because they do not have a warm place to sleep, and that was accomplished last year. The goal remains the same for this year, Altman said Tuesday, as the shelter program kicked off its 20th season with its second annual Homeless Awareness Walk.

A small group walked from the Rescue Mission on Martin Luther King Boulevard to the St. Vincent De Paul soup kitchen on Front Street to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless, particularly during the cold winter months, officials said.

The Cold Weather Emergency Shelter Program is a collaborative effort among Help Hotline, numerous community agencies and the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley. Between Dec. 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009, 263 people were served under Mahoning County’s Cold Weather Emergency Shelter Program, needing at total of 5,026 bed stays. Of the 263, 32 were children under 18, according to the Mahoning County Homeless Continuum of Care.
The group’s mission is to assist Mahoning County’s homeless and near homeless to obtain housing, economic stability and an enhanced quality of life through comprehensive services, said Erin Bishop, coordinator. The long-range goal is that within the next decade, all people and families in the county experiencing homelessness will have a permanent, safe, decent and affordable place to call home, she said.

The Rescue Mission provides shelter at night, and the Greater Youngstown Point, 1555 Belmont Ave., offers shelter from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, as well as facilities for laundry, showers, lunch and television, said Otha Cooper, outreach support specialist.
Anyone who needs help should call the Help Hotline Crisis Center at (800) 427-3606 or 211.


  1. Great coverage of the second annual walk for the homeless and kick-off of Cold Weather Project. Kudos to all who were there and who've been part of the project.

  2. Covering the CWEP is an excellent idea; I linked to this post on the Greater Youngstown Point website ( Would you mind linking to us on this blog? As you update for this subject, I'll make sure to do the same for the site. All the best. Todd Stigliano