With temperatures in the single digits no one wants to be outside, but for some people it’s not a choice.
“I could die out here, you know what I mean. I could die. That’s how cold it is,” Nathaniel Meadows said.
Meadows is currently living at the Immacare Shelter on Park Ave in Hartford so he’s protected from the elements.
“Today would have been the worst day of my life right here. It’s too cold for anything to be out here,” Meadows said.
But there are people who are out there. Mark Jenkins of the Greater Hartford Harm Reduction Coalition runs into them every day at the mobile RV on the south green in Hartford.
“We have some people who are still staying in tents,” Jenkins said.
There’s a tent city near Pope Commons in Hartford with a well-beaten path.
“It’s challenging when you have temps right here as you see, it’s cold," Jenkins said.
Jenkins and his team are ready to get anyone who needs shelter a place to stay.
But it's been a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic because the shelters have limited their capacity due to social distancing. The state is still supplementing shelter capacity with hotel rooms.
“If the warming centers and shelters don’t remain on a 24-hour cycle there is nowhere for these individuals to go,” Jenkins said.
Eric Vazquez is one of the lucky ones who found shelter.
“It’s a struggle man. You don’t know where your next meal is going to come from,” Vazquez said.
This week the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness and dozens of organizations and municipalities started to count sheltered and unsheltered homeless.
“The point-in-time count happens one day in the last two weeks of January because that’s typically the coldest weather of the year and if folks are experiencing unsheltered homelessness at that time it’s a severe case,” Linda Casey said.
Casey of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness said with towns as their partners and access to a new app that’s tied to a statewide reporting system they will have more accurate information about who is experiencing homelessness all year long.
Last year 2,904 people who were homeless on the night of the count. This year’s count won’t be completed until mid-February.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there suffering right now,” Meadows says.
Vazquez added that: “It’s a tough situation especially with this weather, cold weather.”