With extreme cold, Reading's homeless shelters near capacity

'This is the biggest crowd I've seen'

READING, Pa. - 2017 is going out on a low note. Low in temperature, that is.

People are bundled up, thinking about the moment they can finally get out of the cold, but for some people, they're not sure when that moment of warmth will come. In come Reading's shelters to the rescue.

The Hope Rescue Mission on North Sixth Street is nearly at capacity, with more than 70 people in its code blue section, in addition to its downstairs bed area being full.

At Opportunity House on North Second Street, the numbers are unprecedented.

"In the years that I've been here, this is the biggest crowd I've seen," said Kate Alley, the vice president of marketing at Opportunity House.

Officials said between 25 and 30 people will be in their quarters and out of the cold. Space is already at a premium for them, and they said the number of people staying with them is way higher than what they saw at this time last year. Still, they said they're prepared.

"We've gotten a lot of blanket donations in recently and we do have coats coming in on a regular basis," said Alley.

But even in this degree of chill, Opportunity House is seeking out a different kind of donation.

"With the increased number of people, all sort of paper products are needed. Toilet paper, paper towels, plates. All kinds of paper goods are needed," said Alley.

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