Schenectady County

Bitter cold drives homeless people inside across region

Homeless shelters in Schenectady and Albany were preparing to put sleeping mats on their floors Frid

Homeless shelters in Schenectady and Albany were preparing to put sleeping mats on their floors Friday night to accommodate more people on one of the coldest nights of the winter.

The temperature was expected to drop to below zero Friday night and early this morning. With the wind factored in this will feel like 10 to 15 degrees below zero, according to the National Weather Service in Albany.

“It’s been a good month since we have had a day this cold,” said Daniel Frueh, a shift supervisor at the City Mission of Schenectady at 425 Hamilton St. “We see people coming in that we don’t usually see.”

The City Mission has beds for 65 men. When these are filled, sleeping mats are placed on the floor of the mission’s day room and in a classroom.

The mission also provides the men with meals and counseling.

“On Thursday we were close to being filled up,” Frueh said. “We have had people coming in all day … sometimes they come in the middle of the night.”

The City Mission also has a shelter for homeless women and this was nearing capacity Friday evening as well.

“We never close our doors,” said Al Thompson at the Capital City Rescue Mission at 259 S. Pearl St. in Albany. The mission expected to have at least 200 people spending Friday night; some of the overflow from the shelter goes to St. Peter’s Church, where there is room for about 15.

The rescue mission has 60 beds on its second floor and 24 beds in the lobby as well as sleeping mats for many more men.

“We make room for them in the chapel and the day room,” Thompson said. Homeless men generally start coming in the evening. “Friday and Saturday nights are usually pretty busy,” Thompson said. “They get three meals a day plus a snack.”

The rescue mission also provides counseling and chapel services.

Shelters of Saratoga Inc. on Walworth Street in Saratoga Springs is one of the few in Saratoga County.

All 13 beds were filled Friday night, according to a supervisor at the shelter. He said four of the six beds for women at the shelter were also filled.

Shelter officials say the shelter has been filled, or nearly filled, through the winter. When the facility can’t accommodate someone, the Department of Social Services finds an alternate location, often in area motels.

Brian Montgomery, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany, said Friday was the coldest day since Jan. 10, when the temperature also dipped to zero.

He said the average high temperature for Jan. 29 is 31 degrees and the average low is 13 degrees. The high Friday was 15 and the low early Friday morning was minus 5 degrees in Albany. Areas with higher elevations had even lower temperatures.

Wind gusts were up to 40 mph about noon Friday. The wind will diminish today to about 10 mph but the temperature will reach a high of only between 15 and 17 degrees under mostly sunny skies. It is forecast to drop to 5 degrees tonight.

On Sunday the temperature is expected to reach the mid-20s under cloudy skies with a slight chance of light snow, Montgomery said.

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