How Charleston’s homeless spent Christmas Eve

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — As thousands enjoyed Christmas Eve Friday in Charleston, dozens of homeless people in downtown spent it on the streets.

Governor Jim Justice recently allocated $7.25 million from CARES Act funding to go towards food pantries all over the state, and $250,000 to go to the Union Mission homeless shelter in Charleston, still, some of the homeless say it’s hard getting help out there.

Inside the men’s homeless veterans shelter in Charleston on Christmas Eve, was Larry Dean.

Dean had come up with $54 to get six pizzas for his fellow homeless veterans from Gino’s Pizza.

“Get some pizzas I’m planning on having a party,” said Dean when asked what he was planning for the night.

But he needed a ride to get there.

Dean, a Desert Storm veteran is semi-disabled and uses a walker to get around.

Like most of the veterans he lives with, he’s waiting to get housing assistance from HUD for a permanent place.

Dean eventually found a ride to the pizza place on Washington Street a few miles away and was able to get the pizzas back to the shelter.

But other homeless men and women in downtown Charleston weren’t as lucky to get a slice of pizza or a roof over their heads Friday.

“It sucks, going to be out here in the cold,” said Sam Barton.

Barton, a former prisoner, says he’s been blacklisted by the surrounding shelters in the area.

“If you piss off one person, all the surrounding places that are supposed to help you, they don’t want to help you either,” he said.

“If you piss off one person, all the surrounding places that are supposed to help you, they don’t want to help you either.”

Sam Barton, homeless man

Barton says there needs to be a place where anyone can go to get off the street.

He adds policemen won’t allow them to pitch tents or sleep under the underpass next to Capitol Market because it’s state property.

“I mean you got what everybody calls ‘abandos’ that everyone’s getting into and everything, we get in trouble for breaking into them but yet you look around and there are all of these businesses here for lease and everything else, I mean open up a place where we can go.”

Earlier that day, Barton says a man, his wife, and two children came and held a barbecue for the homeless on Smith Street.

They also gave him a handmade cross.

So “there’s hope,” he said.

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