NEW CASTLE —
CHOICES HAVE RULES
The homeless have choices.
There are shelters in town, and there is the City Rescue Mission, which houses Christian men. Women have other shelters available.
But most of those places have house rules and at Tent City, there are none.
For example, the Rescue Mission has curfews and works to instill religious beliefs the men don’t always want to obey, and no alcohol is allowed.
The alternative is to suffer the most dire weather conditions.
Three homeless people succumbed last year, and most who survive life in the woods have suffered life-threatening bouts of pneumonia, according to Angela Hagberg of Patches Place.
“We’ve had people die on the streets or lose toes or their feet because of frostbite or exposure,” Hause said.
One man fell asleep at a bus stop and died. Another developed a blood clot because he lost his toes.
“If it wasn’t for Patches Place and Catholic Charities, I think a lot of people would be in a world of trouble,” Quinn said.
He pulls back the flap of a tent in the woods to show an accumulation of canned goods, tools, clothes and other items he and his neighbors have amassed through donations from a generous community.
“Whatever we have, we use,” he said.
Rogenski sits in a folding chair rolling cigarettes and explains he is leaving Tent City and moving into an apartment on the city’s East Side. He was lucky to find a month-to-month lease and rent at $450 plus utilities.
He receives disability pay and “it pretty much takes all of the check money I have to make a move.”
He fell from a ladder in 1996 and broke his back. He has two plates in his spine and virtually no ribs remaining on his left side. He wears a knee brace and walks with a cane.
He keeps his shaved head warm with a ballcap over a do-rag.
This wasn’t Rogenski’s first stint at Tent City. He lived there two years ago, even during the winter when it was nearly impossible to stay warm.
He shrugs. “We sit by the fire and try to keep it going at night, but there isn’t much wood to burn.”