Crossroads prepares overflow shelter to protect the homeless from the cold

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With temperatures across Rhode Island expected to plummet to single digits this week, the push is on to help get more homeless people out of the cold and into warming shelters.

At Crossroads Rhode Island in Providence, mattresses are stacked to the ceiling as the shelter gets ready to accommodate the less fortunate.

“Right now during these cold temperatures, it’s getting folks in, into a safe warm place,” Crossroads Chief Operating Officer Michelle Wilcox said. “In our overflow shelter last night there were 44 individuals who came in.”

Wilcox said they expect the number of people using their winter overflow shelter to increase in the coming days as the temperatures dip.

“It’s really important that we get the word out to the people who are out of doors through our outreach team that dangerous cold is coming,” Wilcox added.

According to Wilcox, Crossroads has a three-person outreach team working to reach the homeless who don’t normally utilize the shelter system. The team is encouraging those people to come inside from the extreme cold, where they risk frostbite and hypothermia.

“Our outreach teams are working really hard to find folks, people who have tents or other kinds of situations that they are living in, really remind them that this is dangerous cold that we have coming and their normal means of survival, really hey shouldn’t risk it and they should come in and seek shelter,” Wilcox said.

Libraries and community centers across the state are also being utilized as warming centers.