COLUMBUS, Ohio — Many people see laundry as a chore and not a luxury. When they run out of toiletries, they add it to a list for the next shopping trip.

What You Need To Know

  • Dozens of warming houses in Columbus offer refuge during dangerous weather

  • These homes can mean a matter of life or death

  • For youth in crisis in Ohio - basic necessities fall by the way side when survival is at the forefront

But for youth in crisis in Ohio, basic necessities fall by the way side when survival is at the forefront.

“Especially in extreme weathers, having a place where you can gain immediate access where there’s no wait list is essential,” said Ann Bischoff, CEO of Star House in Columbus.

Bischoff is creating a COVID-19 safe haven for those in need.

“Star House is a drop-in center, so a young person, ages 14-24, any time between 10:30 pm and 2 p.m. the next day and have immediate access to safety,” said Bischoff said.

Especially as temperatures dip below freezing, these spaces may be the difference between life and death.

Star House, which started in 2006 as a research project with the Ohio State University, is one of a dozen warming houses in Columbus opening their doors as the temperature drops.

Bischoff said a dozen isn’t enough.

“We need more warming stations in our community — places of worship, if you’re able to open up, and provide a safe place for people to be, we need more libraries to step up — so we invite people in the community to consider those opportunities,” she said.

As the shelter and its participants weather the bitter winter together, Bischoff is laying the ground work, offering like therapy, job placement, and permanent housing so that this winter will hopefully be the last for those on the street.

“We like to say there’s a place for everybody at Star House,” she said. “If you have just a little bit of time, or a lot of time, you can volunteer at to learn how.”