Homeless: Winter Has Been Harshest in Many Years for Population

Monday, 03 Mar 2014 03:15 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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For the country's homeless population, this winter has been brutal, one of the worst in recent history, advocates say.

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The 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress noted that in January of 2013, there were more than 610,000 people homeless on any given night, and 35 percent live in unsheltered conditions. The report was produced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"Some people here didn't think we have homeless," Marty Fitzpatrick of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse told AccuWeather.com. "Our mission is to keep people alive right now." 

Fitzpatrick said that the Catholic Charities center opened four years ago to serve populations like the homeless it felt were falling through the cracks of the social services safety net.

"There was a sub-group of people (including those with criminal convictions that prohibited them to be around children or women) that had nowhere to go," Fitzpatrick said.

Officials in Buffalo, N.Y., told AccuWeather that cold weather forced officials to call a record number of "Code Blue" nights, a warning for the public and social service advocates when temperatures drop to 15 degrees or below.

"I think this weather is getting very tiresome," Megan Bingham of Friends of Night People told AccuWeather. "We get to come to a warm building, leave and get to go to a warm building while they have to walk everywhere they go and not have a warm building to go to."

In Washington, D.C., 288 homeless families filled every room at the General family shelter during a January storm, according to The Washington Post. Another 326 homeless families were put up at budget motels by the shelter for protection.

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