Earlier this week, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told local news outlets two homeless people died due to exposure during Monday night’s sub-freezing temperatures.
Acevedo posted a request on his Twitter account for people to assist efforts, such as HPD’s Homeless Outreach Team and Patrol, in helping the homeless find shelter as an unseasonably cold front passes through Houston.
Police officers reported finding two bodies on Tuesday morning, the first discovered around 7:00 a.m. near and underpass at the 300 block of Richmond.
They said they found the second body two hours later two blocks away from a homeless encampment near the 100 block of Richmond.
HPD is not releasing details on the victim’s identities at this time.
During an interview, Lt. Patrick Plourde with HPD’s Mental Health Division told a Houston TV station the homeless face a dangerous situation as they try to brave sub-freezing temperatures:
“Often they don’t have anywhere else to go. And, usually, they prefer to stay out on the streets, but, when it gets so cold and you have such frigid temperatures that are in the 20s and below freezing, they can risk hypothermia.”
Officer Gerardo Alaniz said getting the homeless to leave the streets, even during the coldest nights of the year, often presents the biggest challenge:
“It’s so cold. We just want to make sure they get blankets,” Alaniz said in an interview. “We can’t make them go to the shelters with us, but at least we can give assistance.”
The Houston Red Cross reportedly opened a warming shelter at the South Main Baptist Church in Midtown.
Officials at the Star of Hope women’s facility said they are currently at capacity; however, Star of Hope men’s facility also remains open and available with beds.
Those in need of more information or shelter can call 713-924-6126 or the City of Houston’s Helpline at 311.
Stay safe, Houston.