Local organization works to help homeless stay warm

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The bitterly cold weather is especially dangerous for the homeless and a local organization is working extra hard to ensure they have a warm place to stay.

At just after 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, the temperature read 18 degrees.

The wind was howling outside of White Rock Baptist Church at 53rd and Chestnut streets where a homeless woman sat.

Someone called 'Project Home' and said she had been sitting out there for hours.

"Sometimes people who are outside are mentally ill therefore they are not aware of the temperature, so we're their eyes and ears and we will assist them in getting that," said Paulina Vorn, outreach services coordinator.

The outreach team wasn't sure if the woman would come with them out of the cold.

However after a while, she agreed to come along. With a suitcase in tow they took the woman to a warm place at a smaller shelter known as a safe haven.

"People who would normally not want to come in, if it's a smaller environment, they're willing to come in to a safe haven," said Vorn.

On any given night, homeless advocates estimate that there are 300 homeless citizens roaming the streets of Philadelphia.

On Wednesday, some could be found sleeping under a bridge near Franklin Square. Ordinarily about 100 of them would be sleeping in the SEPTA concourse at Suburban Station.

That's where Project Home used to have an office called 'The Hub of Hope.' There were doctors, nurses, psychiatrists and others offering their services to the homeless.

However this year, issues have forced them to close down until they can find a new location.

"We've run into issues with private landlords that don't want to take on that risk. We've been doing everything we can to try to find a location that's in the concourse to where we can offer enhanced services that can really get people connected to housing and get people in a better situation," said Karen Orrick, coordinator for Hub of Hope.

Action News spoke to 'Ron.' He used to be homeless and ask that we not show his face.

Ron says he's back on his feet thanks to the Hub of Hope.

"A lot of us don't trust the programs like the shelters. I've been in the shelters before and I've been discouraged by the shelters but when the Hub of Hope was down in the concourse, I knew I could go there. They helped me last year and now I have my own place and it's wonderful," he said.

Ron is now working on getting a job with Project Home and the outreach teams are rooting for him.

Meanwhile during this Code Blue, if you know of any homeless person that is in need of a warm place for the night, you are urged to call the Project Home hotline at 215-232-1984.







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