Pandemic presents challenges for homeless shelters as extreme cold sets in

The Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission on Vine Street has stepped up its efforts to get people out of the cold.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The coldest air in three years has moved into the Philadelphia region.

Temperatures fell into the teens overnight with wind chill values near zero and in the single digits.

The Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission on Vine Street is stepping up its efforts to get people out of the cold.

"Right now, Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission is the only place in the city that is accepting COVID positive homeless males," said CEO Jeremy Montgomery.

He says they've created space on their second floor to take in homeless men regardless of their COVID-19 status.

"Just in the last 72 hours we have been able to shelter 19 individuals, tonight we have 14," Montgomery said Monday night.

Inside, you'll find Michael Cane who now works there. But he too was once homeless and says nights like these were unbearable.

"The most important thing is for us to keep them out of the elements. By them coming here, they know somebody cares," said Caine.

Not far away at the Chosen 300 Ministries on Spring Garden, they held their typical service and warm dinner, but also passed out new winter coats.

"It feels warm. I definitely need it for the wintertime," said one man who got a new jacket.

Executive Director Brian Jenkins says they're trying to figure out how to get the homeless inside amidst the pandemic, and it hasn't been easy.

"Facilities are limiting their amount of capacity. So, a lot of folks are staying out in the streets either by choice or there are just not a lot of places to go," said Jenkins.

Officials say if anyone sees someone in need of shelter outside during this cold snap, you can help. You're urged to call the homeless hotline at 215-232-1984 and someone will be sent out to their location.

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