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As temperatures drop, be ready to help the homeless

Maryland is currently experiencing the coldest temperatures in nearly two years, with multiple days that have been well-below freezing ("Cold snap raises health concerns," Jan. 24.) As your article points out, our most vulnerable residents — the elderly and the homeless — are exposed to deadly conditions. We've already had 11 deaths so far linked to hypothermia, and that was before the most recent cold.

What people may not realize is that many shelters offer resources for the homeless beyond a warm place to stay. Those resources include housing support and placement, educational opportunities, medical and mental health evaluations and life-skills training. All provide homeless men, women and children with the support they need to become self-sufficient so they won't face another winter in the cold.

There are many causes of homelessness. Many homeless men and women have jobs, families and children. We should all be aware of the resources available for those in need and help spread the word to keep our neighbors safe this winter. There are always more people than you might realize who are only one paycheck away from becoming homeless.

Russ Snyder

The writer is president and CEO of Volunteers of America Chesapeake, a nonprofit group that provides housing for the homeless in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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