Area homeless urged to seek shelter as temps continue to drop - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Area homeless urged to seek shelter as temps continue to drop

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

The severely cold temperatures outside are dangerous and can even be deadly, that's why Springfield's Health and Human Services Department wants people off the streets.

This cold snap is sending even more people into area shelters.

"We don't want anybody left out in this weather," said Bill Miller, executive director of the Friends of the Homeless in Springfield.

Miller is working extra hard lately, as the cold snap that's hitting the Northeast continues to force area homeless into shelters.

"We went from about 165 up to about 185, so that's 20 extra people. It makes the work a little harder, but it's what we're there for, we want to keep people alive," he said.

The Worthington Street shelter is already seeing a 20 percent increase over last year at this time, housing an average 157 people a night.

Wednesday night that number was expected to rise.

The city's health and human services department has a "prevention team" as part of their cold weather response plan, sweeping the streets for common areas where homeless spend the night.

"The city has someone out looking in places that we know of that if people are sleeping out where they might be," Miller said.

Wednesday night's temps are expected to hover right around 0 degrees, making it dangerous or even deadly to spend mere minutes outside.

City officials are encouraging drivers who see homeless to call 911 so they can be helped.

Springfield police will also be making sweeps of the city to make sure everyone who needs shelter at least gets access.

"Unfortunately we were seeing a rise before this cold spell, so it's kind of a double whammy, but we'll manage. We appreciate the support we're getting and we'll figure it out," Miller said.

Temperatures are expected to drop even further Thursday night.

City officials want to remind residents to check on elderly neighbors as the cold snap continues.

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