BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — With this brutal cold spell hitting during a mild winter, the city of Boston is taking action along with area homeless shelters to protect the most vulnerable residents.
Pine Street Inn President Lyndia Downie says their shelters have been full this winter, and ahead of the freeze they worked around the clock to get the word out about the impending danger.
As long as the temperatures stay dangerously low, Downie says Pine Street "will be adding two additional vehicles to transport people throughout the city through this cold spell."
Downie says Mayor Michelle Wu and city officials organized a meeting with shelter representatives this week to get a response plan in place and make sure there's enough capacity.
"No one will be turned away," Downie said. "Not here. Not anywhere else in the city."
St. Francis House, which is usually a daytime program, will be taking people overnight.
In a situation where someone may not want to come inside, Downie says in some cases they may just ask someone to sit in the van with them for a few hours "just to get out of the worst of it." She says the shelter responders will be checking in on people on a regular basis.
"We do have a list of people that we think are particularly vulnerable because of either health conditions or mental health or substance use, and we'll be very focused on getting them in."
Governor Healey has taken temporary action to ensure South Station is kept open overnight during the cold spell. The station has been a place of refuge during bitter cold winters in the past, but the MBTA has drawn criticism for locking it up overnight in recent months.
Downie says if you see someone on the streets in the cold, "certainly you can tell people, 'Pine Street Inn, 44 Harrison Ave -- St. Francis House, 39 Boylston.'
'What I will say is -- if you see see someone in distress. Don't call us. Call 911."
EMT's and police officer can simply get places faster than the shelter vans, and in deadly cold temperatures, Downie says time is everything.
WBZ NewsRadio’s Madison Rogers (@MadisonWBZ) reports: