Shelters make room for more people as extreme cold moves into Capital Region

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Monday night, it could be life or death in extreme cold temperatures for people experiencing homelessness in the Capital Region. Shelters in the area called a ‘Code Blue’ night, meaning the cold is too dangerous for people to stay outside.

Capital City Rescue Mission is expanding their capacity to meet extra need, able to accommodate about 50 extra people.

The director of the rescue mission says getting people inside is a community effort between Albany Police, the outreach van and CDTA.

“They could die out there, this is very brutal weather. We have over 100 people on mats tonight, which makes it our crowded nights. But we’re ready, the whole place is ready and we’re happy to have people come in so they’re not in this terrible frigid weather,” said Perry Jones, the director.

In addition to shelter, they provide clothing. They’re asking the community for donations of any winter gear that’s new or gently used.

“Coats are very necessary right now, this is our big coat need season, and then gloves and hats, and depending on the weather, boots, and they can be all used things,” he said.

And cold isn’t the only thing shelters have to prepare for. With surging COVID cases in the area, the rescue mission is on alert for that, too.

“We actually have quarantine areas where we can quarantine people, and then tomorrow our clinic is available, and the hospitals are open all night,” Jones said.

So far—they haven’t had many COVID cases—with guests following masking rules. But they are able to test people if they need to.

“We test here, we keep testing on site because we want to be able to do it and just test immediately, so I have a paramedic on my staff,” he said.

The mission is also open during the day as a warm place for people to have breakfast and lunch and sit inside.

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