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Cold brings fewer homeless to shelter this year


Port Jervis Warming Station guests Chris and George chat with staff member Heather Bebe on Sunday night.

PORT JERVIS – Hangouts are scarce for homeless people on cold days, now that libraries and restaurants are closed to visitors because of the pandemic.

“The numbers coming to shelters are down across the county,” said Jack Austin, a longtime volunteer at the Port Jervis Warming Station at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. “I don’t know why. Maybe the homeless are smoothing things out with relatives, so they have better situations.”

He notices them walking around Port Jervis, going in and out of Dollar General, Family Dollar and Rite Aid. Save-A-Lot has machines where they can redeem bottles and cans they collect in huge bags. They spend that money and handouts as they go in and out of stores to stay warm, he said.

Consequently, when people call the Port Jervis Warming Station and ask what would be useful to donate, Austin suggests gift cards for nearby eateries, such as Burger King, Port Jervis Pizza and Good Friends Chinese food. He also mentions particularly useful gifts of the past.


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