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Omaha's homeless population relies on winter services for food and warmth

Posted at 10:19 PM, Nov 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-04 23:19:31-05

OMAHA, Neb. (kmtv) — Many of us don't have to think twice about where we'll get our next meal, but that's not the reality for our homeless population in Omaha.

Nebraska has an estimated 2,400 people experiencing homelessness, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Year round, many struggle to find food. But, their situation is elevated during the winter. With out a hot meal, warm clothes and other resources it can turn deadly.

"I got here because I actually had a drinking problem," Omaha resident Joseph Burks said.

Burks was born and raised in Omaha, and says he is living on the streets because of his addiction to alcohol.

He adds rehab helped him for a few years, but he fell back into old habits.

"I mean that is the only reason that I'm still back here," Burks said.

For him, along with hundreds in Omaha, services providing food and warmth in the winter months are crucial.

Starting December 2nd, The Salvation Army will be using food trucks to serve thousands.

"To have someone on the street... to take a moment to understand one's life and tries to help them move along in that life, is so important," Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army Greg Thompson said.

It's the 32nd season of the organization's night watch program.

Last year, they provided the homeless or those just a pay check away from living on the streets with 16,000 meals and 12,000 pieces of clothing.

"Sometimes we have social workers on there, as well," Thompson said. "Sometimes they have larger needs than just a meal and we try to meet those needs, as well."

They don't just offer resources, Burks says they also provide a place where those struggling or trying to get back on their feet can feel welcomed.

"They help you out, and they do not judge nobody," Burks said. "No matter what's going on - they do not. They do not judge you."

The night watch program will start December 2nd and go through February 28th.

The Salvation Army says they welcome hats, gloves and coat donations, especially moving into winter.