Crippling Cold Racks Up Costs at Homeless Shelters

February is on track to become the coldest month on record, and bitter temperatures have placed a financial strain on homeless shelters staying open around the clock.

“We’ve got to continue to provide three meals a day, as we do, and we find a way to do that, even though it’s killing our budget,” explained Paul Iadarola, executive director of St. Vincent DePaul Mission in Waterbury.

Iadarola explained that the shelter is required to keep its doors open 24 hours per day under the state’s severe weather protocol, which Gov. Dannel Malloy has extended through March 1.

Already, the Waterbury shelter is $12,000 over its food budget, and will likely surpass the $20,000 mark if the cold snap continues into March, officials said. Now Iadarola is turning to the community for support.

“I’m the biggest beggar in the city of Waterbury. I go around begging for money,” Iadarola said jokingly. “We send out letters asking people for help.”

The influx of people seeking relief from the cold is also taking a toll on shelter staffing.

“It’s harder because there’s more people, more people want food, more people coming to the door,” said night supervisor Robert Thaier.

Shelter officials said recent snowstorms have resulted in extended hours, with many employees averaging about $4,000 per week in overtime.

Residents can donate to St. Vincent DePaul Mission online.

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