Temporary night shelter set up for Scranton homeless population as cold approaches

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — As snow is expected to move into our area, so is the cold.

Overnight temperatures for this week are expected to be frigid, leaving the homeless out in the cold.

Weston Field will become a temporary night shelter for the homeless starting Tuesday night. The city and Keystone Mission will follow CDC and state Department of Health guidelines.

“This is the only jacket I got. I got like three shirts and two pair of paints and the boots I have on,” said Bob Davis.

Davis is wearing all the clothes he has, bracing for cold air moving into the region.

“This year I am preparing. I got wood, we have a fire. It’s really not bad, right now,” Davis said.

Starting Tuesday, and throughout the week, temperatures will dip into the low 20s and the teens at night. Scranton is opening a “Code Blue shelter” at Weston Field. For four nights, those without a place to call home will have a warm bed, food and a shower.

“I can adjust it to as hot as I want it and stand under it for an hour if I want to and that’s something to me. That’s more than money to me,” said Davis.

“All bunks are going to be six feet apart from each other, they’re going to be wearing masks while they are inside, there is not going to be congregating. It’s not going to be where they can socialize close together. We’re going to keep that distance and protocol just so we can keep them safe and healthy,” said Justin Behrens, executive director & CEO of Keystone Mission.

Behrens says since COVID started, he has seen the homeless population increase nearly a quarter percent in Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties — due in part to the lack of resources and home evictions.

“They might not know they can’t be evicted during this time and they do and it’s too late for them to get better. So they are out on their own. The other one is loss of jobs,” said Behrens.

Davis is heading into his second winter homeless and is thankful for the city’s shelter as he tries to find a better life.

“Some days you do not know where to turn. You know? I come down here, I have my friend there. That’s about who I talk to right there,” said Davis.

The shelter will be open Tuesday through Friday night. Doors open at 9 p.m. and will close for the night at 11 p.m. And then everyone will have to be out by 7 a.m. the next morning.

This will allow the homeless to get out of the cold and any snow that is coming our way.

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