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Butler County Sheriff on opening lobby to homeless: 'It's the humane thing to do'

Butler County Sheriff on opening lobby to homeless: 'It's the humane thing to do'
Posted at 1:34 PM, Jan 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-02 13:34:35-05

HAMILTON, Ohio -- The next chance for a day above freezing is Sunday, but until then southwest Ohio will be hovering around -- or below -- zero degrees for overnight lows for the next several days.

And until the temperature warms up, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said he’ll keep his lobby open overnight for those homeless and in need to get through the dangerously cold weather.

“It’s the humane thing to do,” he told WCPO media partner the Journal-News.

Tuesday’s high temperature is forecast to be 16 degrees, and the overnight low will be around 1 degree -- but with 3- to 5-mph winds, the windchill it will feel like 7 below.

Wednesday will see a high near 23 degrees, but more blustery winds will make it feel like 8 degrees below zero. Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, there’s a chance for snow showers and the temperature will be around 6 degrees, but it will feel like 5 below.

Thursday and Friday nights will also see temperatures at or below zero degrees, but Saturday will see the start of a warming trend. Saturday’s low will be around 10 degrees, and Sunday’s low will be around 29 degrees. High temperatures for Saturday and Sunday will be at 17 and 35 degrees, respectively.

Jones said in these temperatures, “it’s very important” to have a place for the homeless to go when it’s this cold. “You’re not looking at thousands of people, but it’s the humane thing to do,” he said.

The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for central, southwest and west central Ohio, as well as several regions in Indiana and Kentucky this week.

Jones said he wished other government agencies would open lobbies for the homeless but understands the protocols necessary to make that happen -- such as ensuring restroom facilities are available and having the staff to stay overnight -- are challenging and said, “usually the burden falls on us.”

Those staying overnight in the sheriff’s office lobby can’t remain during the day, and Jones said they typically don’t, because “we’ve got to be open for business.”

“Shelters, this time of year, are all filled up, and it’s tough,” he said.