Cold Temps Affect Homeless
GAINESVILLE - It feels like winter has suddenly descended upon North Central Florida.
While some people may be enjoying the cold snap, the chilly temperatures are a real challenge for homeless people.
"Sometimes if I am stuck with no jacket I will try to find a corner that's warm," said James Holmes.
Holmes has been living on the streets of Gainesville since last December.
On Tuesday night he slept outside, in a tent.
"Try to stay bunched up. Body heat is good. Try to stay in a place where there is less wind. Where it is kind of closed in where you can stay warm," said Holmes.
So far the coldest night of the season was at the end of October when temperatures dipped down to 43 degrees.
Temperatures are now the lowest for the month of November.
If you drive by the St. Francis House on a cold night around 8 p.m. you will see men, women and children lined up right here in hopes of staying warm through the night.
"If temperatures dip below 45 degrees then we make preparations as far as bringing the cots in, setting them up and having them ready to go," said Lee Smith.
Smith is the Director of Operations at St. Francis House.
Smith said on average there are about 35 residents who spend the night at the homeless shleter, but on cold nights like tuesday, St.Francis is allowed to open it's doors to 60 additional people.
On Tuesday about 20 people slept in these army cots at the homeless shelter.
"I wouldn't want to see anybody out there when it's cold. Even if you're inside a car it gets cold. So I think it's important that everyone has a warm place to stay," said Smith.
Several Gainesville residents stopped by St.Francis House to donate thick winter jackets and blankets for those who live on our streets.
"There are people around Gainesville that need these things. They were in our closets and we didn't need them so it just seemed like the right thing to do," said Susan McGee who is a resident.
Residents told me they cleaned out their closets this morning, hoping to help others stay warm this Wednesday night.
"Feeling of knowing we are out there and we are going to help them anyway we can," said Andrea Walters who is a resident.
St. Francis is accepting donations including gloves, scarves, jackets and blankets.
The Center of Hope in Ocala will also be allowing additional people to stay in on cold nights.
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