SCRANTON -- The cold weather we're having is drawing attention to homelessness in Scranton. The city's shelters have been busy, and directors are coming up with ways to keep their clients warm when they don't have anywhere to go.
Keystone Mission on Olive Street is a day shelter, meaning the homeless can't stay there overnight. The doors typically close for the night at 5:30 p.m.
Directors say the weather we're having points to a need that Keystone Mission is trying to fill.
At Keystone Mission's shelter, we met John, a man who has been homeless for about a year.
"I'm born and raised here in Scranton, born in west Scranton, and it's just, like you said, I don't remember a winter like this in a long time, myself," he said.
John says the past week has been brutal. Keystone Mission has extended its hours since New Year's Eve but can't keep its clients overnight.
"You have to find someplace inside, you know? I went for a walk last night and there's people sleeping out in the lobby that's in the parking garage that's down on the corner of …Washington and Linden. I mean, it's crazy right now."
John Gleason is the president of Keystone Mission. He says it's hard to pinpoint just how many homeless there are in Scranton, but he believes the number to be more than 300. He says over the past week, they've seen about 60 people per day.
"The crisis, I think, now is it's one thing to be cold at night, but when the days only get into the single or double, low double digits, it doesn't warm up," Gleason said.
So, when the shelter must close its doors, it's equipping clients for the cold. A contractor donated lots of insulation.
"It's specifically designed for commercial use, like under concrete," Gleason explained.
It can double as a bed protecting people from the frozen ground.
They've seen an influx of donations this week of coats, gloves, and hats. Gleason says this weather has helped draw attention to the problem of homelessness.
"As bad as the weather is, it's probably advantageous for us from the standpoint of letting people know this is a crisis, and honestly, the crisis is a 365-day deal."
The weather has also drawn attention to the Keystone Mission's future plans. They're looking for a new, bigger building in hopes of opening an overnight shelter, too.