Increased outreach to homeless as bitter cold moves in

Bitter subzero temperatures are headed to the Twin Cities metro area Thursday.

There will be a huge temperature swing in short period. It was about 32 degrees at 11 a.m. and the temperature will fall to a feels like temperature of about -30 degrees about 12 hours later. 

“A night like this when it’s this cold, we just have to make sure we are out here making sure everyone has what they need so they can stay safe,” said Natasha Oreskovich with Street Works.

Organizations, like Street Works, will be doing extra homeless outreach. Staff members will be out offering supplies to those who are homeless. This includes everything from hats, gloves, hand warmers and gas cards. They will also be providing reminders about where they can go to stay warm. 

“If I’m not feeling well I can’t help other people, so I’m wearing two pairs of pants, hat, all the extra stuff,” said Alex Minnaen, an outreach worker.

Leaders with Street Works say one tool that helps a lot on nights like this is their website and a specialized app, called YSNMN. The app gives real time updates for where youth can find open beds as well as contact workers out walking the streets directly. For more information, click here.

Autumn Dillie does street outreach for AI-CDC – the American Indian Community Development Corporation – and helped open the drop-in center a week and a half ago.

“It is a place to come in and rest,” said Dillie. “It is a place to come in and eat. It is a place to shower. It is a place to do those things you’re constantly trying to figure out while you’re living on the street and experiencing homelessness.”

The AI-CDC drop-in center is open until 7 a.m.

St. Stephen’s in Minneapolis is also doing overnight outreach by getting people information on open shelters and drop-in sites. One of the shelters expanding their capacity Wednesday night is the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center. They’re adding overflow beds with 49 mats laid out in their chapel room.

For a list of Hennepin County warming shelters, click here.