As temperatures in South Florida are expected to drop below 50 degrees Tuesday night, Miami-Dade and Broward have declared cold weather emergencies and are opening the doors to shelters for people who need a place to stay for the night.
Broward County has declared its cold weather emergency from 6 p.m. Tuesday until 8 a.m. Wednesday. People who are homeless are advised to report to the Salvation Army in Fort Lauderdale for transportation or access to special cold-night shelters.
Alyse Gossman, director of development for the Salvation Army, says they usually can hold well over 100 guests per night but are only allowing 35 in because of the pandemic.
"Because of COVID-19, we’re really trying to strategize with other people and partners in the community to make sure we still meeting CDC guidelines but still be able to provide that service of warm shelter," Gossman said.
Those who don’t make it in will be taken to at least two other nearby shelters.
In Miami-Dade County, the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust has activated its cold weather emergency plan. That’s when the City of Miami’s Outreach Program works with the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust to get people into a shelter.
Gregory Colemon has been without a home for almost three months.
“We’re walking, trying to get food,” he said. “Trying to find a safe place to lay, and something warm to wear while we’re out here sleep.”
Colemon saw a member of the Cold Weather Team who’s out to make sure people will be warm ahead of Tuesday night.
“I stopped him because everybody told me that when you see the van, you stop him and talk to him,” Colemon said. “They can probably help you get into the hotel and shelter because you have to do the quarantine thing. I don’t mind, as long as I’m out the cold.”
Ron Book, chairman of Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, said the cold weather emergency plan has been activated six times since December.
“It’s a miserable experience to be outside anyway but in cold weather, extraordinary miserable,” Book said.
While the focus is to get people off the street, he told NBC 6 the pandemic has changed the process.
“We would ordinarily be bringing people in mass into our shelters,” Book said. “We won’t do that today. The reason they are going to quarantine and isolation sites is because we have not had them tested today so you don’t mix people that are untested into your general population.”
Book said 62 people accepted the invitation Monday, and another 30 as of Tuesday afternoon.
Colemon is happy to be in that number.
“I know they can’t help everybody, so they are helping as much as they can,” he said. “So that right there makes me feel good.”