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Advocate: Boston homeless shelters are at 110 percent capacity

The scene at the Pine Street Inn Wednesday.Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

The city’s shelters have been overcrowded due to the recent stretch of horrific weather, according to the city’s director of the Emergency Shelter Commission.

Jim Greene told the Metro Tuesday that the city has about 1,500 beds or spaces for the homeless to sleep but are making room for a population of about 1,700 homeless.

“The only thing that’s good about that is that people are off the streets,” said Greene. “It’s extraordinary. People are just making room and there’s no end in sight. It really is life-saving work.”

He said the T is being tolerant and allowing the homeless to shelter in place at stations during the inclement weather and that Boston Police has assisted outreach workers in removing those from the streets who refuse to seek shelter.

Monday morning, the temperature at Logan Airport was 28 below, which was the coldest it’s been in a decade. The cold snap followed about three weeks of snow that dumped more than seven feet of accumulation on the city of Boston.

“People are at incredible risk,” he said.

The Pine Street Inn, a group that provides shelter services in the South End, has an additional 100 people sleeping in its lobby every night, said Jennifer Harris, a spokeswoman for that group.

Harris said the Boston Night Center, located near Haymarket, was reopened last month, which can accommodate another 65 homeless people.

Pine Street outreach workers drive two vans around the city — Faneuil Hall, Copley Square , Downtown Crossing, Allston — every day, looking to bring in homeless people. Ahead of the most recent storm, the outreach workers brought in 17 people off the streets, she said.

“It’s definitely been a difficult winter,” said Harris. “We have a full house every night.”

 
 
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