WENY News - Frigid temperatures force homeless to seek shelter to survive

Frigid temperatures force homeless to seek shelter to survive

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ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- If you've stepped outside in the last twenty-four hours, you know how cold it is. 

So area businesses are opening their doors during the day to get the homeless off the street and out of the cold.

"We've noticed that in the winter time, a lot of folks will come in and stay several hours," said Chemung County Library District Director, Ronald Shaw.

With Friday's windchill temperatures reaching as low as negative sixteen, it's impossible for anyone to be outside for long.

"We're open," said Shaw. "The doors are open and we have heat, fortunately. In the summertime we have air conditioning, fortunately. So if people need to come in and take advantage of that, we welcome it."

With temperatures set to be in the single digits heading into the weekend, the homeless in Elmira are looking for ways to stay warm. If they're unable to find warm shelter, they could face frostbite and even death.

"They do come in here quite often and we see them come and go," said Elmira bus terminal manager, Mary Gidney. "It does help to have a place for them to go because it is extremely cold there."

Catholic Charities of Chemung and Schuyler County is offering extended hours for their homeless shelters.

Charity officials say Governor Cuomo has issued an executive order requiring homeless shelters around the state to be open around-the-clock whenever it's thirty-two degrees or below. 

But local businesses are saying their doors are open to anyone in need who needs to get out of the cold. 

"There's a lot of people that don't have a place to go and they need to get in and out of the cold and the wind when it's like this," said Gidney. "It hasn't been like this a lot, thank goodness, but it is very cold outside."

The homeless can seek shelter during the day at both the Chemung County Library District as well as the Elmira bus station. 

Catholic Charities will also be taking in the homeless around-the-clock while the weather is below thirty-two degrees. 

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