• Home

Keeping the Homeless Safe During Cold Winter Temperatures

In wake of Governor Cuomo’s executive order to protect the homeless from harsh winter conditions, a local organization continues its mission of keeping people safe during Broome County's coldest temperatures.

The executive order calls for all homeless people to be directed to a shelter when the temperature falls below 32 degrees. It also requires shelters to extend their hours so the homeless can stay indoors.

FOX 40 spoke with Shari Weiss, president of the board for the Southern Tier Homeless Coalition. Weiss says the organization has had a “No Freeze" program in effect for more than five years. This program allows homeless people to stay in a participating location for one business night regardless of temperature throughout the months of November 1st to April 30th.

“People are at the greatest risk for physical danger. You know, hypothermia, exposure, frost bite; there are various health risks. So it’s both a human service and a public health effort to make sure that people are safe, and safely sheltered, during these months,” said Shari Weiss, President of the Board for Southern Tier Homeless Coalition.

The YWCA currently has two “No Freeze" beds. Weiss says including the YMCA, and Volunteers of America (VOA), there are around 10 of these beds available in Broome County, on top of normal sheltering. At the YWCA, in addition to a bed, each person receives access to food, a shower and a bag of their own personal care items.

Weiss adds that while the organization is pleased with Cuomo's executive order, it is just a short-term solution to the problem of homelessness that exists throughout the entire year.