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Homeless shelters prepare for Code Blue

This week brings the coldest weather we've seen so far this winter, creating a troubling situation for our area's homeless.

SCRANTON, Pa. — People who are homeless can gather at Keystone Mission on West Olive Street in Scranton, but only during the day.

For most of the year, throughout most of our area, there are limited options for shelter overnight, and Monday night saw the lowest low temperature yet this winter.

"I actually, with the rest of the money I had, went to get a hotel room," said Albert, who didn't want to go on camera. He told us he's been on the street for about a month.

Later this week, Albert plans to stay at an emergency shelter that will be set up when the temperature dips again.

"It's either out here in the cold, freezing to death, or having a warm place where I can eat and have a roof over my head. I'd rather be there."

Keystone Mission activated "Code blue" when the temperature gets below 20 degrees at night staff sets up a shelter in the gym at Weston Field on Providence Road in Scranton. The shelter opened for the first time this winter Monday night, and director Justin Behrens says they expect to open again Friday.

"We're seeing an increase. We don't know their names or their faces, and we're trying to see their stories. We're seeing an increase in homelessness. Life is just tough right now. There's a lot of struggling going on. We're seeing people who maybe have never been homeless before in their life and have nowhere to go," said Behrens.

Behrens says the mission has also opened an emergency Code Blue shelter in Wilkes-Barre this year in an attempt to protect the growing homeless population.

"I know that the police forces are working together. If they find someone who is cold out there, they get them to us for the cold nights. This is community involvement; it's going to take the community to solve this. I've said it before, and this is just one piece of that puzzle."

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