Helping the homeless stay warm in dangerous weather

Rochester Police Officer checks on homeless living in tents along South Avenue.

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) – Going out in the frigid temperatures is dangerous, but there are a number of people in the City of Rochester who already are making it a regular part of their day, to make sure the homeless people in the community are safe.

“We do our best if we encounter them, to get them to a shelter if they want to go,” said Captain Dave Smith of the Rochester Police Department. “We give them a ride, you know, check on them.”

He was one of the Rochester police officers braving the cold on Friday to check on the homeless who live in tents along South Avenue.

Two people answered his calls; neither wanted help.

Down the street at St. Joe’s Community Center, many folks were inside getting a warm meal.

Catholic Worker James Murphy tells 13WHAM the subzero temperatures are bringing more people inside.

“We've been seeing a lot more people living outside coming in,” said Murphy. “We need boots, we always need socks and underwear, but boots are a big demand right now. Whether they're new or used, sizes 9-12 men's boots.”

When St. Joe’s closes at 1 p.m., everyone must go back outside until the shelter reopens for the night.

This creates a gap for many of the homeless.

It's why The Pillar, the church across the street, opens its doors at 1 p.m. It gives those in the cold again another warm place to go.

“It's weather like this we stay open until 8 p.m., until it's time for them go to back across the street to the shelter,” said Patricia Williams of The Pillar.

It’s a place Glen Brown is grateful for. This is his first winter being homeless.

“Most of us come here to stay out of the cold,” said Brown. “I'm blessed to be here, to have places like this.”

“They just need warmth, they need clothes, socks, shoes, I do it all, me and my husband, we do it all,” said Williams.

It's just one part of the network in Rochester working to keep those without warm shelter safe and out of the cold.

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