How the homeless survive the cold
Thu, 10 Nov 2011 00:40:00 GMT —
There are more than 1,100 homeless people in Potter County alone, so when temperatures drop, there is a scramble to find shelter and warmth fast, but where they choose to set up camp is not always legal.
On the night of October 26th, Amarillo got its first glimpse of winter this season.
Temperatures dropped down into the 20's, but many in our homeless community had just a tent for shelter.
The homeless have an impact on Amarillo Police officers day in and day out.
Whether it's to check in on certain areas or to break up a fight, their daily struggles hit home for those officers more than you know, especially when winter rolls around.
"Sometimes, since it's so crowded, people start fighting with each other because when it gets colder and you have so many homeless down here, everybody wants that certain space and they do get mad at each other," said APD Patrolman, Adam Gutierrez.
Sometimes where they set up camp can be a problem, Officer Gutierrez and I came upon a tent in an area that said no trespassing, but in this case the owner had given him permission to stay.
"Sometimes the homeless, they'll stay there and watch certain properties for people that way they can try and prevent some burglaries from happening, so they'll just hang around here."
Under the bridge at 2nd and Pierce, a small tent community was formed.
Several members of the homeless community worked together to set up tents and prepare for what was to come.
"Well, you wouldn't believe it, we've got plenty of sleeping bags and blankets inside these tents, and it's just, it's unbelievable we stay as warm as if we were inside," said David Funk, a man who has been homeless for more than three months. "it's tough, but it's not, because we try to stick together and fend for each other and once we work together it's not as bad."
Doug McKinney has been homeless for 22 years, half of his life, and he says no matter how many blankets you have, sometimes it's just too cold to sleep outside.
"To be honest I've slept in police stations, fire stations, churches, just for shelter or sometimes a hotel, the city if they don't have shelter, they'll put you up in a hotel for a night."
McKinney says he has been trying to get back on his feet for years but he says when you're homeless, nobody wants to help you.
"It's rough being out here, I'm homeless and I'm just trying to get back on my feet, little by little. I've had some situations over the years and I'm just trying to better myself as much as I can, but it's kind of hard without ID and stuff. It's kind of hard to get help when you need the help and to be honest a lot of places don't want to help you because of the situation you're in."
So, the people under the pierce street bridge banded together to survive yet another chilling night on the streets.
"To me there's two types of the homeless community right here. There's people that are here, because situations put them here and then there's people here that, that's what they want. They don't want anywhere but to camp and be outside."
Thursday night, find out where those who do want help go, as I show you what it's like to spend a night in a shelter.