Helping the homeless survive the elements in frigid South Bay weather

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With temperatures near freezing Tuesday night, efforts are underway to help the homeless population survive the elements.

The Boccardo Reception Center in San Jose is expected to be at capacity, accommodating 250 people who are seeking a safe space to sleep with a hot meal and hot shower, away from the unbearable cold.

“I don't know how people are going to do it tonight if they choose not to come in,” said HomeFirst CEO Andrea Urton. “It is freezing. Hopefully, we don't get a call that someone has expired. That's what I’m afraid of because it happens every year.”

Walter O’Neal, who is homeless, appreciates the comfort of a warm bed. 

“I’m grateful for being here,” said O’Neal. “I’m grateful to be alive still.”

“Tonight is going to be the coldest of all of this stretch of cold weather,” said Patty Eaton of Santa Clara County Office of Emergency Services. 

Santa Clara County Office of Emergency Services is opening up a handful of warming shelters and reaching out to those most vulnerable.

“There’s different populations we are very concerned about,” said Eaton. “Obviously the people who are outdoors or in their vehicles, we are very concerned about them because of the loss of body heat can lead to hypothermia which could lead to death.”

At last count, an estimated 7,400 people are on the streets in Santa Clara County.

“Our social services and some of our medical outreach teams are going to the creek side to make sure people are aware this cold weather is coming,” said Eaton.

Scott Wagers with CHAM Deliverance Ministries distributed 150 blankets to a homeless encampment under the Highway 87 overpass in downtown San Jose.

“This last year tragically 158 people died on the streets and we are basically doing what we can to save lives,” said Wagers.

Some people are more at risk than others. It doesn't help some tents were flooded with recent rain.

“I’m fully dressed with blankets over me and I’m still cold,” said James Schultz, who is homeless.

Many homeless people are enduring the winter weather saying the shelters are too crowded.

“A blanket on a night like tonight, blankets could do wonders because people die of exposure,” said Wagers.

Wagers will be passing out more blankets Wednesday night. Warming shelters will remain open through Monday.