It’s cold outside, and Philly is helping with the fallout

 A homeless person finds some shelter under the 676 overpass near North Sixth Street. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A homeless person finds some shelter under the 676 overpass near North Sixth Street. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

So much for that mild winter we were having. It’s very cold out there.

But the city of Philadelphia is making efforts to deal with the weather.

When the wind chill index is in the single digits, a major urban issue is dealing with those chronically homeless people who won’t come inside no matter what the weather. That task falls upon David Holloman, director of chronic homelessness for the city of Philadelphia. He says several hundred Philadelphians fall into this category, and they need someone to check on them when the thermometer takes a nose dive.

“The city dispatched outreach teams to those locations and the city was able to assess, evaluate, place them in housing or if they need a higher level of services the city will make that call to get them to the appropriate need,” he said.

Holloman says the city plans to have more beds available during cold months.

“From the winter initiative time, what we consider from Dec. 1 or when there is additional extreme weather, we bring on additional beds,” he said.

Most of us have been experiencing the effects of the cold, with all kinds of things freezing, from windshield wiper fluid to neighborhood streets. Dave Perri, Philadelphia’s streets commissioner, said  part of the city’s answer to the icy weather has been: Bring on the brine.

“Brine is a mixture of salt and water that gets sprayed on the street. It does two things. No. 1, it prevents the snow or ice from sticking to the street. It also melts the first inch of snowfall that would occur.”

The city currently brines about 10 percent of its streets before a snowfall. Perry wants to do more but it would cost about $10 million, money that he will ask for this year when City Council holds its budget hearings.

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