Original published at Common Dreams
As record-breaking cold weather sweeps across the nation this week, reports from around the nation show how the U.S. homeless population -- which has risen dramatically in recent years -- are being hit the hardest in the wake of slashed funding that has left shelters overburdened and public services at their breaking point.
From Springfield, Massachusetts: "It's a death sentence, you can't survive, you get hypothermia, you go to sleep and you die.":
"Keith Kelleher, who is homeless, told 22News, 'On a night similar to the one we had last night, very cold, two of them decided to make a statement, they slept on the steps of city hall and they froze to death.'
"'It's a death sentence, you can't survive, you get hypothermia, you go to sleep and you die,' said Louann Harbert, a homeless resident.
"Friends of the Homeless volunteers were searching throughout the night for those in need, helping them to find a warm place to sleep.
From Greensboro, North Carolina: Volunteers Help House The Homeless During Bitter Cold:
"While many people can crank up the heat during winter months -- the homeless population don't have that option. Hundreds are stuck outside, sleeping in makeshift tents with no source of heat.
"With overnight low temperatures dropping into the teens, winter emergency shelters are filling up quickly.
"On most nights, hundreds of men, women, and children are staying at places like the Greensboro Urban Ministry."
From Asbury Park, New Jersey: Homeless shelters see uptick in requests as cold sets in:
"'We're caught between a rock and a hard place because of the weather,' said Tom Barrett, 52, Thursday morning in the James J. Howard Transportation Center in Asbury Park. 'We don't want to be in this situation.'...
"Across the Jersey Shore, frigid temperatures and nasty winds sent the homeless into shelters and public spaces looking for a warm place to stay, people who normally would spend the night in their cars or in public spaces outdoors."
From Washington, DC: District brings homeless in from the cold:
"[Wednesday] was the second night this year that the city had announced a 'cold emergency,' which allows officials to order homeless people into shelters when the temperature hits 15 degrees or below without snow, and 20 degrees when it's snowing. The warming centers held 295 adults -- 41 percent more than at this point last year.