DETROIT (WWJ) – There are no shortage of stories detailing the bitter cold weather causing pipes to burst, furnaces to falter and shelters to fill with homeless. But in some cases — the homeless refuse to go indoors to escape the dangerously cold temps.

WWJ’s City Beat Reporter Vickie Thomas spoke with one such man, Michel,  holed-up in a a tent steps away from a warming center and blocks from Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries; he had his misgivings about leaving his makeshift setting.

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Wednesday, COO of the rescue mission, Barbara Willis visited the tent and offered him shelter which includes a bed, a hot shower, and food.

“This cold is dangerous. It’s dangerous to be out here,” Willis told Michel. “We’d like to really help you — if you could just come down the street to the mission.”

But in the end he didn’t want to leave his space. “I’m tired,” he said. “I no go anywhere.”

“It would be better if you went there — you could get some sleep. We have bunk beds, showers, and food to eat,” said Willis.

When asked if he was surprised that the offer of a warm and safe place to retreat from the cold was declined –Paschal Eze director of communication said he was. “I am surprised, because the weather — that is so dangerous and you would expect that, if such a person were to receive such an offer he would readily embrace it … but it is part of what we see in the line of business we are in. But we are happy that many people – most homeless come to have the warmth … we have all the things they need,” Eze told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas.

“We’re making an appeal — there is no need to be out there – when the resources are available to assist you …,” said Eze.

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Willis emphasized that they will keep trying ‘he may be a bit afraid right now. We’ll keep checking.”

She says that the shelter operates “24/7 — we don’t turn anyone away. We can’t force anybody – We just have to stay available.”

The issue and search for solutions doesn’t stop with the missions, Detroit City Councilman Scott Benson says they are trying their best to bring the less fortunate in from the cold.

“It’s the homeless, it’s the elderly, it’s those that don’t have heat right now – there were a number of people really suffering when the temperatures get this cold — the city does have a number of warming stations so I hope that people take advantage of those if they are heat challenged right now,” says Benson.

List of Detroit Warming and Respite Centers [HERE].


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