Police check on the homeless during the bitter cold
BRISTOL, Va. - Temperatures are dangerously cold around the region, especially in the overnight and morning hours. In Bristol, Virginia, police are taking extra steps to make sure the homeless population will stay safe.
Jeremy Armstrong has been homeless for the past three years, trying to make ends meet after the death of his mother.
"Ever since, I've been sleeping on couches, sleeping on floors, doing what I can to survive," Armstrong said.
During the day, Armstrong finds refuge in the library trying to maintain a normal life often filling out job applications. However, the night time brings stress, especially in winter.
Armstrong said, "I've got friends that will say you can crash on the floor, but that's only for a night or so, then it's figuring out where to go to next."
Bristol, Virginia police try to ease the burden, checking on places where the homeless are known to camp.
"We try to check up on them, try to make sure they're okay, make sure they've got enough clothing, that sort of thing. We also try to direct them towards shelters that might be available," Bristol, Virginia police Captain Maynard Ratcliff said.
Local churches are an important resource. At one, we found blankets left on the steps by good Samaritans.
Some local businesses also offer help.
"A lot of times we'll open when a lot of things are closed because we know they don't have anywhere else to go," Burger Bar owner Joe Deel said.
Deel said he grew up poor, and this is his way of giving back to those in need.
"Most of the homeless people down here have a story. It's not they're doing it to ride the system. Most of them are one or two paychecks away from getting off the streets," Deel told News 5.
Residents can also contact the Bristol, Virginia police and request a welfare check at a private home. That is intended to help those living alone who may be at risk due to the extreme cold.