Cold weather alerts put homeless at risk

Today was windy and the cold is a serious concern for those who have no where else to go.

On cold winter nights the chances of frost bite, illness and even death increase dramatically for those who are outside for an extended period of time.

There are many warm public places where the homeless can hang out during the day, and as for sleeping accommodations, The Salvation Army says no one gets turned away.

The medical officer of health issues a cold alert when temperatures are expected to be at or below -15° celsius or feeling like -20 with the windchill.

“You can get frost bite in a matter of seconds with the cold weather out here right now”

Hats, mitts and scarves out front of General Hospital were all donated by hospital staff and on a day like today they come in handy for a lot of people.

The Salvation Army representative Dan Millar says their truck goes out every night to serve warm food and drinks to those in need. Approximately 210 people are fed every night. There is also an outreach program run by the city of Hamilton to get people off the streets on cold nights. During the day however, there are several locations in the city that will take the homeless in.

“The best places are either going to the malls, or going into the library or even the Hamilton rec centres”

At Hamilton Public Central Library, in Jackson Square, many homeless spend the day to stay warm.
It’s a free place to learn, get help and stay out of the harsh conditions, something Jessie Busch knows well. She recently got a job as a parking attendant downtown, and says she has struggled with poverty and homelessness in the past and now seeing people on the streets in the cold hits close to home.

At Central Library the representative there said there are two employees who do the rounds every day and connect the homeless or those who may be struggling with other community services.

If you see a homeless person out in the cold, call The Salvation Army at 905 527 1444 and Dan Millar says, if you can, buy them a nice hot coffee.

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