Rescue Mission fighting to get homeless people off the streets in below-zero temperatures

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - With windchills expected to be well below zero across the region heading into this weekend, it could be disastrous for many of Central New York's homeless population to spend the night out in the cold.

Jim Hawley, with the Rescue Mission outreach program, spends his days working with those on the streets, trying to help in whatever way he can. 

For the past three years, he's traveled to homeless encampments across Onondaga Count--trying to bring them inside from the cold.

“A lot of times, they choose to be out there because they don't trust anybody,” Hawley said.
Hawley will try to build relationships with the homeless living in these encampments. 

“I give them coffee, I give them food, I give them warm clothing, bedrolls that I pass out,” he said. 
By earning their trust he hopes--in a best case scenario--they'll come in from the cold. In the worst cases, he hopes they may just finally share their real names. He says the process can take days and even months.

He says it can sometimes be discouraging, but he’s not giving up. 

“That is the hard part. I want them to come in sometimes more than they want to and it doesn't work that way. It's very sad to see them out there, they're worth more than that and I'm not sure they believe that,” Hawley said. “We’ve had people living under these bridges frost bitten. They get black toes and I’m not sure if they understood how serious that is.” 

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