Local homeless look forward to opening of new shelter - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local homeless look forward to opening of new shelter

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Local homeless shelters are filled to capacity each night, but plans for a new emergency shelter are in the works.

The new shelter will be located on 11th Street, in the former Homeless Health Care building next to Community Kitchen.

"This is all I've got in the world," Jerry Reif said while tugging on his coat. "I'm not trying to be cold all night."

But Reif doesn't have much of a choice. He's homeless.

"This isn't fun. It's survival every day," Reif said, sitting on the steps outside Community Kitchen.

It wasn't always life on the streets for the 43-year-old. Caring for his sick mother was a full-time job until she passed away in 2010.

"I took care of her until the day she died, and I've been kind of lost since then."

Reif said he took a job in Florida, but work ran out. When shelters are full, he rests his head at a truck stop.

Community Kitchen's emergency shelter is no longer open at night due to lack of funding and volunteers. The charity's organizers said opening a new shelter next door will help cut down the number of those forced to sleep on the streets.

"People wonder why these homeless people are just out walking around," said Carlo Eberhardt. "They don't have a home."

Eberhardt was born and raised in Chattanooga. He has no permanent home and said he stays with family when he can.

It's a life that's tough understanding unless you've lived it, Reif said.

"Life is hard when you sleep on that concrete."

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