Outreach teams work to bring warmth to District's homeless as temperatures plummet

As frigid temperatures blanket the nation's capital, so too do dozens of outreach specialists, hoping to help those who need it most.

"Oh you need gloves? I got you," Vincent "Bones" Blackson told a man Monday night.

He isn't the only one looking out for the city's homeless.

"Not just me," he said, "a lot of my coworkers really have relationships with them, and people we come check on periodically throughout the week."

Blackson is a United Planning Organization Shelter Hotline driver, and over the last 15 years, he's gotten to know D.C.'s homeless by handing out blankets, socks, or rides to shelters, especially on frigid nights like Monday.

"Make sure y'all put these long johns on. You know if you want to go in we got you," he told a group of men in northwest.

Because of the weather, there's an urgent need for help. As of 5 pm Monday, nearly 1,700 people were in D.C. shelters, about twice as many as usual, according to the city.

"They just like family to me," Blackson said.

It's a phrase he doesn't use lightly. His father had the same exact job before him.

"If you can look in the mirror, and when you look in the mirror you see yourself looking like this is the end of the world, you would want somebody to help you," Blackson said. "You would want somebody to reach out to you, why not reach out to them?"

If you see someone outside in D.C. who needs shelter, you can call the Shelter Hotline at (202) 399-7093 or dial 311.