“It’s brutal, it’s very cold,” said a homeless man who asked not to be identified. “Even if I don’t know them, it still hurts my heart to find out somebody died because of this situation.”
The State Medical Examiner reports the death happened near the height of the region’s coldest temperatures.
“So, I could very much freeze out here in the cold,” the unnamed homeless man told News 8’s Mario Boone.
In fact, this winter has so far racked up 29 days at or below freezing. Four days actually recorded zero or below. When the mercury drops that low, it turns up pressure on emergency shelters like Immanuel Baptist in New Haven.
“Usually we’d be in the high 50’s, but I’ve noticed this winter we’ve been in the mid 60’s,” said shelter director Arnold Johnson referring to the increase in people seeking refuge from the cold. “So, I would say we’ve increased at least by 10 to 12 percent.”
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Johnson said he was heartbroken to hear an elderly person had froze to death.
“You never like to hear about somebody losing their life, and to lose their life because they didn’t have an opportunity to be inside some place or be out of the elements,” Johnson said.
Shelters normally close during the day, but when temperatures drop below 32 degrees, Johnson keeps his doors open around the clock.
“They have the option to stay in and we will provide them with lunch just to keep them, again, out of those elements.” He also said no one gets turned away, even if it means calling other shelters around the state.
“We’ll just have to find some place for them to sit or lay down,” he explained. “We’re just not going to put anybody out like that.”