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More people seeking shelter in deep freeze

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: Jan 23 2013 06:00:00 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 24 2013 05:30:22 AM CST

Wednesday night it was too cold to be outside for too long, that's why Opportunity House has an open door policy for anyone who is homeless.

READING, Pa. -

Wednesday night it was too cold to be outside for too long, that's why Opportunity House has an open door policy for anyone who is homeless. Temperatures were so frigid the shelter took extra steps to prevent people from freezing to death.

At Opportunity House, located at 430 N 2nd St. in Reading, when it's really cold they extend their hours and let people stay all day long inside. And that's for anyone who needs a place to lay their head at night.

On a cold day, you want a hot meal. Wednesday night at Opportunity House, meatball subs were on the menu.

"Some kind of civic group will come and serve dinner," explained Orlando Long, a case worker.

Dinner was for everyone. There were some people who are going through the program who will sleep in a bunk and others who just needed a place to stay will sleep on the floor.

"All these tables actually get stacked up," said Long pointing to where people would sleep later on.

Long said when the temperature drops those days are called code blue.

"I would expect more tonight because it being so cold," said Long.

One person who chose to sleep here sat down to explain why.

"Freezing cold..freezing," she said.

She didn't share her name because she didn't want people to know she's homeless and before this week she was sleeping in her car.

"It's not home. It's not heaven but it beats being out in the cold," she said, "Being grateful, being grateful that there is a place to come."

Some call it the place of last resort. This woman called it a beginning.

Long said there have been nine to 10 women looking for a safe, warm place.

"So, we actually made arrangements with the Hope Rescue Mission, which is right down the block here, where they're housing all the single men and we house all the single women," said Long.

He said combined there were about 30 people Tuesday night.

"If we didn't, you would see a lot of homeless people on the street, which you really don't see now," said Long, "And you would probably get reports of people dying."