Bitter weather intensifies concerns for Boston’s homeless population

BOSTON — The bitter weather taking hold of the region on Tuesday is intensifying concerns for people who are still living on the streets of Boston.

Boston 25′s team of meteorologists is forecasting single-digit readings out the door that will feel subzero in Boston.

City workers and outreach teams from area shelters have been working around the clock to try to reach the homeless population.

Dozens of people remain in tents along the Mass and Cass corridor ahead of the city’s Wednesday deadline for everyone to clear out.

“It’s all hands on deck tonight, canvassing and trying to find people to encourage them to come indoors,” said Barbara Trevisan with Pine Street Inn. “We literally don’t want anyone to die in the cold.”

Pine Street Inn is prepared to provide 500 beds despite dealing with a 23 percent COVID-positive rate this week.

The shelter had previously maintained a COVID-positive rate under one percent for over a year.

“We’re sort of looking at this as a perfect storm both figuratively and literally, given that it’s cold weather and COVID,” said Trevisan.

St. Francis House on Boylston Street is opening an hour and a half early on Tuesday at 5 a.m.

The day shelter is anticipating up to 400 people will come through their doors over the course of the day.

“On these cold days people stay longer, and they don’t go,” said Karen LaFrazia, President & CEO of St. Francis House. “I feel like we’re making incredible choices between the dangers of being outside versus the dangers of close contact with people.”

Mayor Wu said city workers have recently tended to people with frostbite and hypothermia in weather that wasn’t as cold as what’s in the forecast on Tuesday.

Fire officials have also been talking with people about the dangers of using propane heaters after several recent tent fires.