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Homeless advocates working to get people off the streets as temperatures drop

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo

As frigid temperatures continue to have a grip on central and northern New York, the people who watch out for the homeless are keeping busy.

Homeless outreach teams from The Rescue Mission and My Father’s Kitchen fan out every day in Syracuse, looking under bridges, in parks and in abandoned buildings looking for homeless individuals who are spending the night in what have been single-digit and below-zero temperatures.

Melissa Marrone, who manages the Housing and Homeless Coalition of Central New York, said so far they’ve brought three people in from the streets.

"There was a gentleman who was found just a few days ago living underneath a bridge," Marrone said. "That morning, street outreach woke him up and that evening he was in an apartment.”

Marrone said they also search in more populated areas.

"Gas stations, sleeping in the parking lot of a gas station. A lot of 24-hour locations. That’s what we’ve  found over the course of the past year. So the 24-hour McDonalds," she said.

It’s not just the city that's getting attention. Marrone said the coalition also works with Oswego and Cayuga counties. A new street outreach program started in Oswego County because of an uptick in concern over people spending the night in unsafe places.

"There were a few families sleeping outdoors," she said. "And by outdoors, meaning places not meant for human habitation - campers with no heat or running water, families sleeping in cars and things like that.”

Marrone said 211 is the number to call if citizens know of anyone spending the night without proper shelter.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.