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Outreach teams help homeless during severe weather


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    PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — In the cold weather, outreach teams are working hard to help people living on the streets.

On Tuesday, a team with Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare went to Northeast 33rd Drive in Portland to hand out supplies. Clifford Reitenbaugh lives in an RV along that road.

“It’s really hard,” Reitenbaugh said. “The hardest thing is heat.”

He’s one of many who the team made sure to help along its route.

“I’m overwhelmed, I’m very happy for it,” Reitenbaugh said.

“It is hard,” Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare outreach worker Chris Cowan said. “For example, some of these people I know who they are, they know who we are. Some people are probably going to be here next year.

“Those folks that want to go inside, we’ll help them inside. If they want to go inside, we can get them there, in just about every scenario.” Cowan said they give out things like blankets, sleeping bags, tarps, handwarmers and propane heaters. He said they also assess what people need in each situation.

“Most people are going to overestimate what they need so we’re going to go with that,” Cowan said. “I would too if I had to get my daily needs met out here, and we’re ready for that.”

While those items are given out to help endure the cold, Cowan said they first focus on sharing how people can get warm inside at various shelters. But he says most people don’t choose that option.

“Lots of different reasons you know there’s typically a curfew,” Cowan said. “They can’t kind of come and go as they please. Frankly, some of that’s not true anymore. The shelter environment is very different now.”

But they’re committed, either way, to helping people in these tough situations.

“What they’re doing is really helping because it keeps the spirit up,” Reitenbaugh said. “People have more hope when there’s somebody there to give a hand.”

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