SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Imagine what it would be like if you couldn’t escape the cold, it’s a reality for hundreds of homeless people every winter.
The Friends of the Homeless in Springfield holds up to 250 people on any given night. 150 people stay in the emergency shelter, and another hundred in individual rooms.
This will be Frank Aguiar’s first winter at The Friends of the Homeless shelter in Springfield. He told 22News they’ve already helped him a lot since the temperatures started to drop. “They give us vouchers to go get some clothes or coats or hoodies. Also in there, they give us blankets and sheets and what not to be warm,” he said.
For some, their services are the only guarantee they have they’ll survive the cold winter months.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, an average of 700 people, who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, die of hypothermia every year.
Bill Miller, the Executive Director of the Friends of the Homeless told 22News the cold winter months are especially challenging on people who can’t afford the necessities. “The biggest challenge is for the people themselves, they’re often walking to other appointments or even if they’re taking the bus they’re standing out in the cold and that’s tough for them,” he said.
Many of the chronic problems homeless people face, like a lack of warm clothing and malnutrition, increase the risk of developing and dying from hypothermia.
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