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BELOW ZERO: Homeless Hunker Down

Posted on: 10:35 pm, January 21, 2013, by

Many of the homeless in the metro have been without shelter for years, and have learned how to keep warm in these bone chilling temperatures.

“This is my tent. I got a little mud room in the front. I’d take you in but it’s a little messy.” says Jeff Heaton of Des Moines who has been homeless for about two years now. Heaton has learned how to keep himself warm, even in a modest tent like the one he set up in a homeless camp just outside downtown.

Some of the tents have generators, lights and even televisions. All of them, including Heaton’s, have propane heat. “I can get it up to about 50-degrees in 30 minutes.” he says, “And then I cut it down on low. And when I go to bed I shut it off. I don’t sleep with that thing on. I’m too scared to burn up. So I shut it off then if I get cold through the night I’ll get up and turn it on and warm it back up.”

Obviously, not everyone who is homeless in the metro has it this easy. Homeless advocates like JOPPA are always looking for donations of warm clothes, propane heaters that turn off when they are knocked over, and of course cash.