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Aurora cold weather outreach team activated

Aurora activates Cold Weather Outreach Team
Aurora activates Cold Weather Outreach Team 02:05

We know this deep freeze is dangerous. Yet for the hundreds of people living on the streets in Aurora, it can be deadly.

That's why Aurora's Cold Weather Outreach Team – or ACOT – was created. The team includes support from Aurora Fire Rescue personnel, Aurora police officers, as well as mental and behavioral health experts. Using a large van, the team visits encampments throughout the city and encourages people to seek shelter and will take those willing to leave.

"It's a public safety thing," said Courtney Tassin, who oversees ACOT as the city's Crisis Intervention Program Manager. "It's the least that we can do."

Tassin said that since this cold snap began on Sunday, many people experiencing homelessness made it to a shelter on their own. ACOT also helped dozens more get to a warm, safe space at the Aurora Day Resource Center. Sometimes, though, Tassin said people don't want to leave their encampment because they're afraid of losing their belongings or may have other shelter-related trauma.

"In those instances," she explained, "we'll provide cold weather gear, so blankets, gloves, hats, you name it, handwarmers. Even some food and water, just so that even if they're not being transported somewhere they can at least be a little more safe in the environment they chose to stay in."

With temperatures dropping below freezing Monday night, ACOT crews will be out again looking for anyone who may need support.

"We always tell people who are fearful of the shelters and losing their items, 'Belongings can be replaced, but you can't,'" she said. 

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