SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Thursday could be the coldest night of the season, and for many people who do not have a place to be inside, it becomes a big concern. KRON4 spoke with homeless advocates about how they are helping the unhoused in the city stay warm.
City data shows there are nearly 8,000 people living on the streets in San Francisco. Being unsheltered in the first place is a big problem, but with Thursday’s storm and nearly freezing temperatures, it could be deadly for the homeless.
“It’s terrible and especially when it’s cold and rainy and windy… It makes it really rough for folks,” said Jennifer Friedenbach with the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness.
Friedenbach says hypothermia is a very real threat to people living on the streets. The other problem is the availability of beds at shelters. She says that for every five unhoused people, there’s one shelter bed. And on cold nights they are in high demand.
“These will fill up and for the rest of the folks, they will be stuck outside,” she said.
The city’s department of homelessness and supportive housing has expanded shelter locations for inclement weather.
The interfaith winter shelter program began last week and runs through March 2023. The city says the program, which roves from one congregation to another, is an opportunity for people to have a bed to sleep in and a warm meal. First come, first serve.
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San Francisco’s homeless outreach team says they activate “inclement weather protocols” during cold weather. Those include wellness checks and distributing supplies.
Friedenbach also suggests people volunteer a helping hand for those who cannot get into shelter beds. San Francisco’s public libraries will also be open during the day to help provide some shelter for the homeless here in the city.
The department of homelessness has acknowledged there are not enough beds for every homeless person but they will work to find vacancies.