Freezing temps poses greatest risk to Boston homeless

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January 23, 2014, 6:03 pm
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(NECN: Alysha Palumbo, Boston) - On a blustery night in Boston, people are braving the cold while buried in layers.

Nicole Sampson, who's originally from Maine said, "It’s miserable, it’s absolutely freezing."

But their thoughts are with those who are outside longer than a walk to and from work or a short wait at the bus stop.

Lynn Nulman of Boston said, "I get concerned about people who can’t get in from the cold, that’s really the thing, I can live with it, I don’t mind it that much, but there’s a lot of people who can’t make that choice."

Jose Carabello is one of those people. He’s seen first-hand just how dangerous this cold weather can be.

"I had a friend Miles died about two or three weeks ago, he froze to death out there," Carabello said.

Carabello is a resident of the Pine Street Inn, one of the lucky ones who don’t have to fight for a bed anymore when the city’s homeless shelters are pushed beyond capacity.

President and Executive Director of Pine Street Inn Lyndia Downie said, "We’ve had over 100 people sleeping on our floor last night between the men’s shelter and the women’s shelter that was after we transported about 74 people to other shelters and when I say on the floor, people are on mats, we’ve got some cots, but we ran out of cots, we put mats down, when we ran out of mats we put blankets down."

"Given the alternative of being on the street, it’s perfect," a Pine Street Inn resident named Richard said.

Even for people who aren’t homeless, this bitterly cold weather can create dangerous situations.

"When the temperature really dips like this, sometimes the boiler system just can’t keep up with the cold weather," said Boston’s Inspectional Services Commissioner Bryan Glascock.

Glascock says they’ve seen an uptick in calls for help this winter – for everything from burst pipes to no heat. He cautions against trying to heat your home or apartment with something other than your furnace.

"Where people get in trouble is they try and supplement with space heaters," said Glascock, "space heaters can be really dangerous if you’re not using them correctly."

As far as the effort to get people who are homeless off the streets during this cold weather, the Pine Street Inn has a couple of outreach vans they deploy overnight.

Normally they go out 9 p.m.-5 a.m., but in this weather, they're out 6 p.m.-5 a.m.

Tags: Boston, homelessness, Alysha Palumbo, Pine Street Inn, Boston homeless
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