Arctic blast sends homeless into area shelters

January 22, 2013

The wind chill this evening is projected at about five below zero in Binghamton, and, on nights like these, homeless shelters like the one operated by the Volunteers of America of Western New York are over-capacity.

Barbara Rick is the program director at that shelter, which provides emergency housing for individuals 18 or older. She says hers and other area shelters operate under a no-freeze policy, meaning no one is turned away even if the shelter is technically full.

“Our capacity is thirty, and we’re probably at 39 or 40 every night. We don’t turn anybody away. We let them sleep on a cot, we put them on a couch if we have to.”

According to Rick, there’s been a notable increase in those seeking shelter relative to last winter, considering last year’s more mild temperatures. In particular, she says she’s seen a notable increase in younger men as the temperature has dropped.

“Last Friday we had two eighteen year olds come in, and over this past weekend we have had two more individuals that have come in under no-freeze.”

An annual point-in-time check of the areas homeless population funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development will take place next Monday.