During brutal cold, Philly outreach prevents fatalities among homeless

By: Aaron Moselle, WHYY

Published: January 10, 2018

With temperatures projected to stay above freezing for the next few days, Philadelphia’s Code Blue alert ended Tuesday morning.

The two weeks of added outreach to the homeless, which began on Christmas Day, was one of the longest in city history. After several days of highs in the teens and 20s, the temperature dropped to zero over the weekend for the first time in decades.

For homeless outreach workers, the bitter cold meant long hours scouring the streets to persuade people to come inside to keep warm. Winter is always a busy time, but the bitter cold sent them into overdrive.

Their work paid off. The city’s shelter system – 3,500 beds during the Code Blue – was at or near capacity most nights. As of Monday afternoon, no homeless people had died from exposure to the cold, according to city officials.

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