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Winter weather poses increased risk for Toledo's homeless population

Colder temperatures, snowy weather and COVID-19 are combining to create a major issue for Toledo's 600-800 people without places to call home.

TOLEDO, Ohio — This week's wintery weather is posing a big threat to some of the most vulnerable people in our community: those without a place to stay. 

It's an all-hands-on-deck effort to make sure everyone is safe. That's where the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board comes in.

The board works with a number of area organizations and shelters, including St. Paul's Community Center, Cherry Street Mission, the United Way and others.

The goal this winter -- and every year -- is outreach. There are somewhere between 600 and 800 homeless people in Toledo metro area and the Homelessness Board says it's imperative to reach as many of them as possible to inform them of resources and places to shelter.

Their lives very well could depend on it.

"To be honest, it's life or death," said Rachel Gagnon, executive director of the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board. "We've seen situations across the country and here, even locally, that but for additional shelter beds, it could mean somebody's life when it gets really cold outside. So it's critical that we get the message out."

"If somebody comes to us and they decide they don't want to stay with us, we will refer them to 2-1-1, which is a great resource in the Toledo area," added Ann Ebbert, president and CEO of Cherry Street Mission.

There is also considerable concern among these groups about what happens when eviction moratoriums expire at the end of this year. They fear it could mean even more people becoming homeless in Toledo and across the country.

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