At times during this brutal winter, the city of Hartford has notified the public about four shelters that are open all day as long as the temperatures are below 25 degrees.
But on this morning, a homeless man named Anthony Bardliving called Cityline to report that the “no-freeze” Immaculate Conception Shelter ordered out dozens of men who slept at the Park Street shelter overnight.
Immaculate typically closes its shelter from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but under the city’s guidelines, it’s supposed to be open during the coldest winter days.
Cityline confirmed that it was about 19 degrees in Hartford, not including the wind chill factor, when Bardliving called at 8:30 a.m. to say it was “inhumane” that the men were left to roam the streets in subfreezing conditions. The Hartford Public Library’s downtown headquarters does not open until 10 a.m., and there are fast-food establishments that don’t want homeless men taking up seats, he said.
Immaculate’s executive director, Louis Gilbert, told Cityline this afternoon that the shelter’s policy has been to close during the day whenever the temperature was above 20 degrees. This morning, “front-line staff” saw on the news that it was 21 degrees in Hartford and decided to close the shelter, Gilbert said.
“They’re supposed to be calling a supervisor when it’s marginal and they didn’t,” Gilbert said. “It’s being dealt with as we speak. It’s a personnel issue … It’s not expected to happen again.”
Immaculate also plans to raise its no-freeze threshold to 25 degrees, he said.
Bardliving admits to have fallen on hard times in his life, including being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes, he said. He added that he used to work as a chef at the XL Center.
“I’ve been homeless over a year,” said Bardliving, 52, who estimates he has been a client at Immaculate since last fall. “I don’t see it as a curse that I’m in a shelter … Things happen.”
The city advises people in need of shelter to call 211.