City officials seek to keep homeless safe during Code Blue

Saturday, December 10, 2016
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Due to the extremely cold temperatures expected, city officials want to make sure the homeless are safe.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Code Blue is now in effect until 6 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 12, in the City of Philadelphia.

Due to the extremely cold temperatures expected, city officials want to make sure the homeless are safe.

There is a 24-hour outreach to find people who are homeless, so they can be transported to safe indoor areas.

All available beds within the emergency housing network will be open to those that need them.

Homeless people will be allowed to stay inside emergency housing throughout the day.

If you see a person who appears to be homeless during a Code Blue, call (215) 232-1984.

For more information, visit the City of Philadelphia's website.

We found a homeless man named Kevin Friday night outside a bookstore in Rittenhouse Square. He was planning to sleep outside until we told him about the Code Blue, and the outreach team that was on its way.

"We have six teams on the streets tonight, and we can't keep up with the calls," said Wes Lilly, Horizon House Outreach.

The brutal cold had Wes Lilly of Horizon House Outreach scouring the streets, looking for homeless people and encouraging them to come inside.

"The wind chills are supposed to be low teens. Individuals who lay on steam grates, your body sweats, pores open, cold air gets in, could lead to pneumonia or other problems," said Lilly.

"We've opened 300 more beds. We have another 100 slots within our cafes. People can come in anytime, day and night," said Liz Hersch, Office of Homeless Services.

The first arctic blast of the season has people pulling out the scarves and hats.

"I'm not used to it because I'm from Phoenix. It's probably like 70 degrees there right now," said Mike Weinen of Rittenhouse Square.

But Danielle Dougherty of Sicklerville, New Jersey, exclaimed, "This is not that bad. I will take this, I will live it, I will love it. It's awesome on a Friday night."

The cold can be painful for those who work outside.

"Gotta keep moving and layer up. Same thing every year. Never changes. Cover up everything you can," said Joe Pena, deliveryman.

As for Kevin, he agreed to go to a shelter. Another life potentially saved thanks to Lilly.

"This my third call, so far, and everybody's came in, so far," said Lilly. "So three for three, so far. I'm here til 8 o' clock in the morning."