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Concern for homeless rises as mercury drops

  • Published Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, at 6:54 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, at 9:32 p.m.

Low temperatures also increase concern for the city’s homeless population.

Donald L. Hipsher, 61, died of hypothermia and heart problems under a bridge in Wichita last weekend, despite the efforts of the city’s three-officer Homeless Outreach Team and city shelters to persuade him to stay in a shelter. Hipsher was the 10th homeless person to die of various causes in Wichita in 2013.

The city’s 10 shelters will work with police to avoid further deaths as the mercury drops again.

“Our homeless outreach person was in touch with him, too,” said Ann Corriston, the executive director of Inter-Faith Ministries. “It’s very, very sad, and I think we’re all very aware of the potential for something like this to happen again. ... You can reach out many, many times, but for some people the fear of being restricted is greater than their fear of freezing to death.”

Inter-Faith’s men’s shelter at 841 N. Market and the women’s shelter at 841 N. Broadway will be open and ready to provide refuge when the subzero weather hits, regardless of demand.

“How do you define capacity when it’s minus-5?” Corriston asked. “We’ve never had to say we’re full. We just figure out how to get people in.”

Bill Wilson

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