RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The frigid temperatures are causing concern for those living on the streets.
Richmond city runs a free overnight shelter on cold nights but many homeless don’t know about it or don’t want to go.
Police officers with the Homeless Outreach Partnership and Enforcement unit try to spread the word and help.
“There’s people who they thought they could hack it out but they’re waiting for a reason to go to a warm place and sometimes [we] can be that reason,” said Richmond police officer Matthew McHugh.
8News Senior Reporter Nate Eaton was with officers Wednesday night as they checked areas the homeless normally sleep.
One man planned to sleep behind a building on Marshall Street but decided to go to the shelter after the officers spoke with him.
“Some people finally get to a point where they think they can hold out thru the cold but then it gets to a point they can’t do this anymore,” said Richmond police officer Jason Kuti.
At Kanawa Plaza police found two men who insisted they wanted to sleep on the sidewalk rather than go to the shelter. They say the cold weather isn’t bothering them.
“How are you keeping warm tonight?” asked senior reporter Nate Eaton.
“Got some hand warmers and plenty of covers,” responded a homeless man.
“A lot of people are just kind of survivalists and they just want to be outside and that’s where they’re most comfortable,” said Kuti.
For those who decide to stay, officers give hand warmers and blankets.
It helps – especially for those determined to stay outside.
“The thing that helps me the most is people’s prayers,” said the homeless man.
Fortunately officers say it’s been years since someone has died from sleeping or staying outside on a frigid night.
They say as long as the homeless stay out, they’ll be out.