Frigid temps cause shelter to open doors to all homeless: health risks increase

Frigid temps cause shelter to open doors to all homeless: health risks increase
Photo provided by staff.

POSTED: Monday, January 6, 2014 - 8:00pm

UPDATED: Monday, January 6, 2014 - 8:04pm

We know the temperatures are reaching all time lows in Baton Rouge, which means those people who are out on the streets risk hypothermia and possibly even death. For those of us who have heat and a place to call home, the cold temps are not so bad right now but what about the homeless?

St. Vincent de Paul has restrictions for everyday clients, but Monday night, those restrictions are lifted.

One homeless man by the name of Sylvester Carloss says he’s just praying he finds a warm place to stay.

"It hasn't been this cold in a long time," said St. Vincent De Paul director, Michael Acaldo

Homeless for the past few months, Janet Swafford recalls the nights she slept on the streets in the cold. “You try and cover up with anything and everything you can to stay warm,” said Swafford.

“It’s very cold and it’s supposed to be colder tomorrow," said Carloss.

So, St. Vincent de Paul is making sure everyone stays warm especially, when our temps dip into the teens.

“When it drops down to the temperature that it’s going to drop to were talking about life and limb,” noted Acaldo. “People should not be out in this type of weather.”

Their simple requirements on a normal basis rule out some but this arctic blast is causing St. Vincent de Paul to open their doors to everyone.

“The number one requirement that we lift when it gets 45 degrees and below is the requirement that you have to be looking for a job or dealing with a substance abuse habit or dealing with whatever created your homelessness," said Acaldo.

Janet Swafford's braved the cold and does not want to endure that ever again.

“It’s really terrible sleeping in the streets,” said Swafford. “I feel for the people that have to do that now and they have really helped us out here they do everything they can for you."

But as for Sylvester Carloss, he's still not sure if he will have a warm place to stay tonight.

“You can get sick and your hands get cold your feet get numb,” said Sylvester. “Your whole body goes numb and you have no feeling."

But Michael Acaldo says although the cold isn’t so pleasing, it could be a factor that changes some of these people’s lives, in a positive way.

“We want to get them off of the street tonight and hopefully they will stay with us and they will deal with that drug or alcohol problem and they will find employment or do what’s necessary to break the cycle of homelessness."

Usually the men at the shelter are turned away in the mornings, but Tuesday they are allowing them to stay longer because of how cold it’s expected to be.

One thing they are in desperate need of right now is pillows and blankets.

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