On Sunday morning I learned that Columbia has no day-time shelters for homeless people. I learned this when my church school boss dispatched me to track down a disoriented lady she’d helped across a busy street on en route to our Christmas party for the kids. The idea was to see if she was still wandering around in the cold, which she was. She had very limited mobility and was pushing her belongings around in a Howard County General Hospital wheelchair. She had hospital bracelets on. She said she had spent the night in the emergency room because of her blood pressure.
It was 30 degrees out. I asked her if she needed help to get anywhere, and she said she needed to get to shelter. She was wearing a winter coat, a pair of light-weight pajamas, and sneakers without socks. I called Grassroots to see where I could take her.
This is when I learned about day shelters and the lack thereof in our area. Homeless shelters don’t usually let people stick around by day, and the one day shelter in Howard County only operates three days a week. The person I spoke with at Grassroots recommended some retail and public locations where she might hang out and wait for a ride to one of their cold-weather overnight sites. It being Sunday morning, none of them were open.
Doesn’t seem like these retail and public establishments where the homeless spend their days – say, The Mall in Columbia – would want to fund some extra days for the day shelter we do have in Jessup? Or maybe establish one in Columbia?