Nonprofit, churches work to get homeless off the streets as freezing temperatures settle in
The race was on Thursday night to get as many people as possible off the streets before dangerously cold weather settled across the Hudson Valley.
Westhab's Project Connect had members of its street outreach initiative connecting with homeless people in Yonkers and urging them to stay the night.
The housing nonprofit has helped hundreds of the streets and into temporary housing and interacted with more than 1,500 people since its launch two years ago.
The teams work tirelessly to build trust with the city's homeless population, to offer them showers, food and emergency accommodations with the ultimate goal of getting them into permanent housing.
"When the temperatures drop or when there's severe weather, there is a higher sense of urgency to get people off of the street," said adult housing director Sarah Lonergan
Project Connect has helped hundreds of people find temporary housing over the last two years with the ultimate goal of finding them a longterm solution.
Around 1,600 people are without a home on any given night in Westchester County, so the problem is persistent, and the life-threatening weather just exposes it further.
Each night, all winter, a group of community churches in Ossining and Briarcliff Manor roll out beds, prepare meals and open their doors to those in need.
"We're glad to do it. We're happy to do it. For the most part, the folks that come here appreciate it," said Bill Caruso, manager of Ossining Emergency Shelter Program.
A few dozen people had dinner on Thursday night and half of them spent the night at Grace Episcopal Church.
The facility is usually open from eight to seven hours but extended its hours to ensure no one was let back onto the streets without a place to go.
People who find themselves outside during frigid weather are urged to dress in layers and stay indoors because it can take less than 30 minutes for frostbite to occur, according to the National Weather Service.