MANHATTAN -- With temperatures plummeting, the city is turning its attention to the homeless population.
On Monday night, hundreds of volunteers will try to get a sense of how many people are on the streets and what their needs are through the Homeless Outreach Population Estimate or HOPE count.
It is something brothers Nick and Mike Fiorito do every day working to hand out blankets through their organization Blankets of Hope.
They are on pace to hand out more than 10,000 blankets this year.
“Today we met a woman who lost her husband,” Mike said. “Honestly, every time you go out it’s just a perspective check you just realize that you are incredibly blessed and there are people out there less fortunate that need your help.”
“Homelessness doesn’t happen overnight,” said Michelle Riddle who is formerly homeless. “You don’t wake up and say hey I’m gonna be homeless. Something happened, it was a mental health issue or fire or storm.”
We caught up with Riddle and other advocates in the back of midtown restaurant Bubo for a discussion hosted by Catholic Charities of New York ahead of the count.
Larissa Story works in homeless prevention outreach in the Bronx. Story said the information gathered on this frigid night is vital.
“It’s one of the coldest nights of the winter, so we want to get a look at who’s out there, what is the need, why aren’t people going into the shelters,” Story said. “Despite the services being available, why are people going out into the street?”
The amount of people on the streets has hovered above 3,500 in the city in 2017 & 2018— up slightly over the 2-3 years prior.
More about the HOPE count: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/dhs/outreach/hope.page