Last night, Friends of the Homeless in Springfield hit an all time record of 184 people who spent the night. That is up 20% from last year.
However, not everyone seeks shelter. Today, ABC40 found a few homeless who choose to live outside even in the sub-zero temperatures.
We found a tent city today, that they asked us to keep as an undisclosed location, but a man named Michael took the time to share with us his “reality.”
“I just got here. I’ve only been here for 5 weeks. I was living under the Agawam/West Springfield bridge before and I got beat up,” he said.
Six people live in the wooded area and the only thing they have to stay warm at night is a fire and blankets.
They have many concerns living out here, including invaders.
“We’ve had people come back here to terrorize our homes more than once. This is all we have,” said a homeless woman who lives in a tent neighboring Michael’s.
Unpleasant surprises…”She had a skunk in her tent last night,” added Michael.
And worst of all, now, the extreme cold.
“This is actually my first winter being out here. We have body heat underneath the blankets and the fire that keep us warm for the most part, but if it drops even colder there is a chance of freezing to death. Yeah, it does scare us,” the homeless woman says.
When asked if she had ever thought about going to the shelter to sleep at night, the woman responded, “I have thought about it, but I’ve never gone.”
This is a choice for the homeless here that can mean life or death.