Homeless services busy during this week's snowstorm

Mar 16, 2017

Syracuse’s Rescue Mission has been busy in the wake of a two-day storm that dumped upwards of two feet of snow on parts of central New York.

The Rescue Mission facility has been bursting at the seams the past few days, welcoming up to 180 housing vulnerable individuals at night, and 150 to its day center.

Executive Director Alan Thornton said staff has been working overtime to keep programs running, including outreach teams working double shifts to try and get homeless individuals inside. He said such a sustained storm creates more challenges for any homeless individuals who are trying to get to the mission.

“A lot of times the sidewalks are impassable and the roads are impassable,” said Thorton. “And the bitter cold puts them in danger of frostbite. A lot of them are not dressed appropriately and don’t have the clothing they need to stay warm.”

Thorton also said uses of alternative methods of heating could bring new dangers.

“Whether it’s using propane, or an open flame in an enclosed environment, it’s a dangerous situation,” said Thorton. “People that are experiencing homelessness are at risk of losing their life, especially when you have something like we’ve experienced.”

Thornton said one upside to the storm is that it may bring individuals inside, who can ultimately access the services that could lead them out of homelessness.