PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Project Home is upping outreach to the homeless in advance of this weekend’s snow storm. KYW Community Affairs reporter Cherri Gregg took a ride with one of the street teams trying to convince the most vulnerable to seek shelter.
“You know about the snow storm, right,” says Sam Santiago, outreach response worker at Project Home.
The man Santiago was asking, found sleeping under I-95 replied, “Yup! I’ll be alright.”
Santiago on is on the hunt for people he can help. He’s searching under highways and bridges, behind parking lots and buildings. He opened tents, peeled back tarps and reached under blankets looking for chronically homeless men and women to bring inside.
“If someone is high or really drunk and they pass out,” says Santiago, “with this weather, it’s a likelihood that they will freeze.”
Last year Project Home found more than 360 people living on the streets of Philadelphia in the dead of winter.
“We’ve been lucky because we haven’t had folks die on the street,” he says.
Santiago knows most of the chronically homeless in the city by name and he uses this bond as leverage to convince even the most stubborn to come inside.
“Sometimes they’ll curse you out,” he says, “sometimes you have to get cursed out forty times before they’ll take help– but that doesn’t mean we don’t come back.”
Many times the work that Santiago and the Project Home outreach response does is rough work, under tough conditions. But for Santiago– it’s personal. He lost his father to alcoholism and other family to addition.
“That’s what motivates me to keep helping folks and trying to get them in,” he says, “that’s how I connect with them.”
So Santiago will keep pushing.
“Mike! Mike!,” he yells– looking under the bridge behind Delilah’s on Spring Garden.
He’ll keep searching, trying to save as many people as he can.
To continue that luck Project Home’s employing extra teams over the weekend.
If you see someone who needs help, call 215-232-1984.