Helping the homeless as winter temps close in

A homeless man lays on a cot at a shelter in New Haven (file).

(WTNH)–Homeless shelters all across the state are gearing up for an influx of visitors as temperatures dip below the freezing point this week.

“We’re saving lives. There are people who are literally sleeping in cars or abandoned buildings and on these cold nights they could die,” said Kellyann Day, CEO of New Reach.

New Reach runs three women’s shelters in the New Haven area. Together the shelters can house 33 families and up to 18 single women. Day says on average their are 50 to 60 children in the shelters each night. Day says demand outweighs supply and last year there were more than 200 families on a wait list for shelter.

“I think it’s 37 percent of families are at risk of homeless in the state of Connecticut. That’s a big number, especially for a quote unquote wealthy state,” said Day.

At New Reach shelters the goal is to give women the tools and resources they need to survive on their own. Women like Brianna who arrived at Martha’s Place 30 days ago after fearing the worst.

“Freezing, freezing to death. Not having enough warmth and I decided I needed housing and even though I didn’t like being in shelters I knew I needed to be here,” said Brianna.

Bessie Davis has been homeless since she was a teenager. The daughter of drug addicts she herself has been in and out of prison. She has spent cold nights in abandoned buildings, in cars, and on benches.

“Having a safe place and a warm place is awesome and the holiday season is, you now, for the first time I feel like I’m part of something and I never felt that before,” said Bessie.

Three weeks into her stay Bessie is grateful for a chance at stability. With winter approaching Bessie says it’s time to end the cycle of homelessness.

“There’s help out there. You know, you just gotta keep at it and don’t give up,” said Bessie.

New Reach says on nights when the temperatures drop to near freezing the policy in the city is not to turn anyone away. People looking for shelter can call 2-1-1 and an outreach member will help direct them to a safe place.



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