With cold blast moving in, Philadelphia declares Code Blue

Taking shelter under the I-676 overpass. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Taking shelter under the I-676 overpass. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A Code Blue emergency begins Wednesday evening in Philadelphia as temperatures take a tumble.  While it continues through Dec. 21, city crews will be searching for the homeless who refuse to enter shelters.

The Code Blue designation means extra people will be going out onto the streets to reach out to the homeless, said Liz Hersh, director of the Philadelphia Office of Homeless Services.

“We deploy more outreach onto the streets to try to encourage people who are street homeless to come inside where it is warm.They can stay in 24 hours a day, so they can stay safe,” Hersh said. “We let all the first responders know the police are able to transport people to shelter to get warm if they need to.”

A few hundred chronically homeless people refuse to take shelter even in the cold.

“They are not just in Center City, but they are in parks, tents, in some abandoned land … we will try to reach as many people as we can,” Hersh said.

Officials in Bucks and Montgomery counties and Camden have also issued Code Blue alerts as the dangerously low temperatures move into the region.

If you see someone in danger in Philadelphia, call 215-232-1984.

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