Homeless shelters filling up during dangerous deep freeze

No organized outreach effort in Columbia

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Columbia overnight shelters were full, or near full, during the second night of below-zero temperatures.

But both the Salvation Army and Room at the Inn told ABC 17 News Monday that there was no organized effort to check on the city's homeless during the cold, except Columbia police.

Some folks were being transported to shelters via friends and family, others on buses to Room at the Inn from Loaves and Fishes.

Janet Schisser, coordinator at Room at the Inn, said Monday the city's homeless population has increased and she has noticed more people seeking help in the winter. She also said Room at the Inn had more volunteer help this season.

"I've seen people who are really desperate, who come in really cold," Schisser said.

Room at the Inn had served 43 individuals since it's January 1 opening, but Schisser said that number represents only a tiny part of Columbia's growing homeless population.

"They're not part of my everyday life because my everyday life doesn't take me to their places, but that doesn't mean these people don't exist and that doesn't mean that it isn't my problem," she added.

Monday night, Room at the Inn opened with more than 35 cots and a steady stream of guests waiting for warmth.

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