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Frigid Night Puts Dallas’ Homeless At Risk

By Jay Gormley, CBS 11 News
(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Many of Dallas’ homeless will spend this night under a pile of cardboard and debris.  It’s all they have to stay warm.

Winford Cross is out to change that; at least for one night.

“That’s why we’re out here. 17 degrees and the ground is wet. That makes it even colder. And if the wind starts blowing; man!”

Cross is part of the Dallas Police Crisis Intervention Team. They’re conducting Operation Code Blue.

When the temperature drops below the freezing mark, the team tries to convince the homeless to come out of the cold and into the warmth of a shelter.  It sounds like an easy sell. But often, the homeless don’t buy it.

Many of them fear they’ll be arrested if they go to the shelter.  Others realize they won’t have access to alcohol if they leave their makeshift homes.

Just a few miles away, David Timothy, who is known as the Soupman, has set up shop under I-45, south of downtown.

On this frigid night, Timothy’s crew of volunteers operate more than just a soup truck. They’re handing out blankets, winter clothes and even $5 bills to the homeless who live under the overpass.

“We feel privileged that we can come out and help these homeless men and women that are out here. It’s really bitterly cold tonight and we’re just happy to come out and give them some assistance,” says Timothy.

The city reports the bridge, as well as the other shelters in Dallas, are full on this cold evening.

After working several hours, the crisis intervention team convinced only four homeless people to return to the shelter with them.