Homeless shelters see increase due to cold temperatures

Dangerously cold temperatures are forcing homeless shelters like the Volunteers of America to go into emergency conditions.

"It happens in most years," explains Michigan VOA executive vice president Patrick Patterson, "so this isn't our first, and you've got to do whatever you can--it's just so dangerous outside."

That means adding beds for people who need it during the cold, windy nights in the winter.

"When the skies sparkle and the plume off the BWL smoke stacks is blowing sideways, you know it's rough," describes Patterson.

Carolyne Pope is one of the 105 people who were sheltered in the VOA on Tuesday night, and she knows how important it is to have a warm place to sleep.

"A very important service is being provided," says Pope, "that makes a difference sometimes between life and death."

The shelter has added 23 beds so far, and Patterson says he expects up to 30:

"We do this because we believe in the dignity of life. You know, there's, every one of the people deserves some basics."

Which Pope has seen make a huge difference among many of the people staying there:

"We see a lot of desperate situations where people [just] really have nowhere else to go and are very grateful to be able to come to the VOA even in a last minute situation in the middle of the night and get a bed."

Because there isn't an escape from the cold for those living on the streets.

Patterson says "all the cold that everybody feels when they get in the car or so forth, you know that two, three minutes is a lot worse when it stretches into hours."

The VOA is coordinating with the Lansing city rescue mission to make sure as many people have shelter as possible.

For information on how to help the VOA, you can click here.