Evansville Police say the problem is getting better, as most members of the homeless community do choose to stay in shelters during "white flag" events. Homeless shelters go into "white flag" mode when the temperature falls below 32 degrees. Evansville's United Caring Shelter will give anyone a warm place to sleep after 8 p.m. Evansville Rescue Mission will take any man over the age of 18 who is sober and not a violent offender or sex offender.
EPD says those who opt out of staying in shelters stay in abandoned buildings and houses, parking garages, or make make-shift shelters like one we found during the ride along in the gazebo outside the old McCurdy Hotel.
"The last guy that was underneath here he had it so warm under there. He had a blanket on the floor he was wrapped up and was using the tarp for cover," said Officer Jay Pagett. "We asked him if he wanted to get to the shelter and he said he was very warm and comfortable and didn't want to leave. But unfortunately we had to ask him to leave because it's not his property."
If they do find a homeless person out in the cold, officers say they typically try to take them to a homeless shelter. Oftentimes they refuse their help. They say most folks staying out in the elements have done it before and know how to survive in the bitter cold.