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Philly expands 'warming center' hours as cold snap continues

The city is stepping up homeless outreach services and expanding shelter space as single-digit temps hit Philly.
A pedestrian in Center City on Tuesday braved freezing temperatures and icy winds. Temperatures are predicted to remain cold through the end of the week. (Charles Mostoller)

An ongoing cold snap that has held Philly in its icy fist since just after Christmas isn’t going away anytime soon.

Snow and ice remain on the ground from a post-Christmas snowfall. Temperatures are forecast to hover below freezing for the rest of the week, with wind bringing the chill down even lower. It’s expected to get especially brutal on Thursday and Friday nights as temps drop into the teens and even single digits.

With a Code Blue in effect, the city said it would open up an extra 500 beds at shelters for the duration of the winter.

“The city's homeless outreach teams will continue patrolling streets, urging homeless individuals to come inside from the cold temperatures,” a city spokeswoman said.

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In particular, the city will focus their efforts on the Kensington/Fairhill neighborhoods around the old Conrail tracks, where large numbers of homeless drug addicts are known to live after having left a former drug encampment on the tracks.

Nearby, Cione Recreation Center at 2600 Aramingo is opening up with extended “warming hours” overnight, available all week to help fight, “extreme weather conditions.”

The rec center will be open 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Jan. 2 through Jan. 5, and open from 10 p.m., Jan. 5 to 7 a.m. the following Monday.

“The center will provide hot drinks, blankets and toiletries to those in need, as well as mental health and drug and alcohol outreach services,” the city said.

People who need shelter during the daytime are urged to visit Prevention Point Philadelphia's Drop-In Center at 2913 Kensington Ave. The center is open Wednesday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Three soup kitchens will provide meals to anyone in need with no restrictions or ID requirements:

St. Francis Inn at 2441 Kensington Ave. (215) 423-5845
 
Blessed Sarnelli at 2739 Kensington Ave. (215) 356-7551
 
St. Phillip's UMC at 718 East Tioga Street (215) 634-3532

Lastly, the Water Department urged residents to exercise caution in dealing with frozen or inoperable pipes.

If your pipes freeze, the department says, use a space heater or hair dryer to thaw the pipes. They also suggest letting your faucet trickle overnight to prevent it from freezing up: “It costs only pennies, and the moving water will help prevent the pipes from freezing,” they said.

The city asked the public to report homeless people sleeping on the street to the Homeless Outreach hotline, available 24/7 at 215-232-1984.