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Bitter cold weather generates additional help for homeless individuals

The Open Door Mission in Rochester, NY.
Open Door Mission
The Open Door Mission in Rochester, NY.

Area agencies that help homeless individuals are getting ready to provide some additional assistance in the next day or so.

That’s because of bitterly cold winter weather that will arrive overnight and going into Friday and part of Saturday.

There is a Wind Chill Advisory from 4 a.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Saturday, with the temperature on Friday to remain in the single numbers, and wind chill factors expected to be in the 15 to 20 below zero range.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said that under the county’s Code Blue protocols, outreach teams will work to make sure homeless people have shelter, transportation and meals.

There’s a similar effort going on at the Open Door Mission in Rochester. Its CEO Anna Valeria-Iseman said that staff at their shelters are familiar with areas that people without a regular place to live often gather.

“A lot of it is word of mouth, because some of those folks will come to us, even if it's just for a meal, or a shower during the day, even if they're not going to stay with us,” said Valeria-Iseman. “So we rely heavily on word of mouth, between our staff who are going out and stopping by some of those places to make sure that the folks who are there know they can come to us.”

Valeria-Iseman notes that Open Door has been quite full in recent weeks, even more this coming cold snap. She said there are various factors behind that.

“Everything from a significant rise in addiction and untreated mental illness over the past few years and also to the eviction moratorium having been lifted, so folks are just struggling, even more now, and of course, access to housing,” said Valeria-Iseman.

She added that it's estimated there are somewhere in the range of 600 to 800 homeless individuals in Rochester on any given night.

Bello noted that a 24-hour warming center is available at the Open Door Mission, 210 W. Main Street in Rochester.

In Rochester, the city is offering several warming centers including:

The Trenton and Pamela Jackson R-Center at 485 N. Clinton Ave. is open Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The David F. Gantt R-Center at 700 North St. is open Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

All other city R-Centers are open Friday from 2 – 9 p.m.

The downtown Central Branch library will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and other city public library locations are open normal hours.

City residents are asked to call 311 if they lose heat or would like to report a neighbor or family member who needs assistance during this time.

Rochester city schools are closing Friday due to the extreme cold. All school-related activities at RCSD are also canceled. You can find more closings online at

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.