Helping the Homeless Brace for the Cold

The temperature is expected to dip down into the twenties tonight and the lows will remain in the twenties and thirties throughout the week. For many of us that just means turning up the heater, but for people on the streets, staying warm isn't that simple. Bill Stamps has the story.
Houston area non-profits are working against the clock. Since the city's homeless can't just turn on their televisions and listen to the forecast, workers have to spread the word as quickly as possible. It could be a matter of life and death.

"They get cold. They don't realize how cold it is. They go to sleep and they don't wake up."

homeless waiting for the shleter to openScott Arthur is with Houston's Star of Hope Homeless Shelter. They've got a game plan already in place to make sure people who live on the street get the help they need.

"Number one, go out and tell these people, mostly men, that there's going to be cold weather. A cold front is coming in and you need to do something about it. Number two, what we'd like to do is bring them into our start of hope shelter. Our men's center or women and family center. Number three, failing the fact that they come in with us we try to make them as comfortable as possible with coffee and blankets, sleeping bags gloves, scarves and warm coats."

Star of Hope isn't the only non profit group heading out to the streets. Workers at SEARCH Homeless Services are doing outreach as well, mostly passing out blankets and letting the people know where they can go. But Director Thao Costis says if everyone were to show up at a shelter, there wouldn't be enough room.

"There's not going to be a place to go. Unfortunately in our city, we only have enough shelter beds for half of the number of people who are actually homeless everyday. So there are still about 5-thousand people who are on the streets everyday and have nowhere to go. So the offer of a warm blanket and a hot meal is so important during these cold days."

Arthur says even when they inform them of cold fronts moving in many of the homeless choose to stay on the streets.

"They get under the bridge. They get into a refrigerator box. They put a lot of blankets and sleeping bags around them and they get some alcohol to help their courage and pretty much hunker down and try to ride it out."


It's a gamble that could cost them their lives.