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Cold Snap Triggers Homeless Emergency

March 26, 2008

Riverhead, NY - Weather forecasters are predicting lows in the 20s for Long Island during the first few weeks of April. Because that could mean hard times for the unsheltered, a Long Island homeless service organization is announcing an emergency program today that will keep its clients warm, fed and safe.

Dennis Yuen with the Peconic Community Council says his group has no choice but to extend its winter program during the spring cold-snap.

"Our program is funded through April 1, but there still is an obvious need for housing out there, especially emergency housing. And it becomes more dire when it's cold. So on any evening that's projected to be 32 degrees or colder, we will reopen the Maureen's Haven program at one of our host sites."

Maureen's Haven provides temporary housing, food, medical and social services from November through March at a network of churches and community centers on Long Island's East End.

Yuen says the cold weather extension makes a big difference for the welfare of displaced people facing a hostile environment.

"They'll be out in the elements and can freeze to death. Mother Nature is not very forgiving. We keep them in a warm, safe environment for the evening, and the next morning they can get on with their lives or go back to work for the day. At least at night, they're fed and comfortable and kept safe."

Yuen says he's counting on the entire Island community to come together for the homeless during the cold weather crisis.

"Since this is an additional emergency program, we didn't budget for this. So I am falling back on the volunteers who have helped this entire winter to put together an evening of food, clothing and shelter on a moment's notice. But additionally, we are appealing for financial assistance from all the caring people out there."

More information on the Peconic Community Council and Maureen's Haven are available online at www.pccouncil.org.

Robert Knight/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - NY