'We need to find a way to bring our people in': Homeless advocates fear cold temps


With temperatures dipping below zero within the next week, homeless people are at the greatest risk they've been all year.

Even with extra beds added, there still aren't enough for everyone. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has acknowledged South Bend doesn't have enough warm beds.

Tuesday night, shelters around St. Joseph County all said they were at full capacity.

The weather amnesty program opened up dozens of additional beds at emergency shelters. But even with the additional beds it's still not enough.

"If you do the math, that's about 77 spots for a population of homeless that is known to be of at least 150,” said John Shafer, Director for Michiana Five For The Homeless.

By his account, an estimated 73 people could be spending this week on the street with nowhere to go.

Shafer says exposure to these temperatures can cause frostbite or even lead to death.

The National Weather Service says temperatures in the single digits without any wind would take only 30 minutes for frostbite to take hold.

Shafer and volunteers are patrolling the streets offering clothes and blankets to people they see in need.

"So we need to especially on cold weather days, if we bring our pets in we need to find a way to bring our people in,” he said.

It's not just at night that the homeless are at risk. Many don't have a place to go during the day and the city knows that.

They're now monitoring the weather and if they feel the need they'll open warming shelters to make sure people have shelter from the cold.

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