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Coping With Cold

Fears for the homeless as temperatures plummet for much of the country

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People living in the Midwest, South and East are bracing for record breaking cold temperatures to ring in 2018. Several cities are creating overflow space inside local homeless shelters to prepare.

In Cincinnati, Ohio the body of a 59-year-old homeless man was found at a bus stop two weeks after the city allocated extra funding for a cold weather shelter, our affiliate WKRC reports.

It isn't confirmed that Ken Martin simply froze to death, as he had other issues as well. He had a bad heart and alcohol problems, so the cause of death is uncertain, for now.

Councilman Chris Seelbach says in a tweet that the city "must do better."

Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld says that the city still needs answers, and advocates for the homeless agree.

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When you depend on the kindness of strangers, making your living in a wheelchair outside is not easy.

“A lot of people call me ‘Pops.’ I guess it's because of the white beard, I don't know,” said Ken “Pops” Martin. “It gets rough in the cold, the rain. I really don't like the rain. Try to find some shelter someplace.”

Ken Martin was no stranger to homeless shelters, although this past summer, it looked like he was turning his life around with the help of a volunteer group called Maslow's Army.

Martin told WKRC back then he was putting his troubled life behind him.

“I was happy having my little pity party and just going on about my existence, and that's all I was doing, was existing,” said Ken.

Martin's existence ended Tuesday morning. His body was found at a bus stop across from Government Square at about 5 a.m.

A couple of weeks ago, Ken Martin was arrested at the downtown Macy's for having an open container of alcohol. He listed his address at a shelter on Gest Street. It's a place where people can get a bed, a meal, but you can't force a homeless person to stay there if they don't want to.

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Ken Martin spent some time in jail, for alcohol-related charges. He also did a bank robbery a few years ago, but at Prince of Peace Church in Over-the-Rhine, which also runs a shelter, Martin was remembered as a homeless man with good intentions.

“Ken came to Prince of Peace several times. I had conversations with him and I prayed with him. He was dealing with some addiction issues and was down on his luck,” said Prince of Peace Reverend John Suguitan.

At this shelter, mattresses are put out for those who need a warm place to sleep.

“We are limited to 44 mattresses because that's what fits on the floor, but on a cold night you could double it,” said Rev. John Suguitan.

Common causes of homelessness include substance abuse, mental illness, or just a tough economic situation.

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