Metro Transit police work to help the homeless during extreme weather

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Metro Transit Police Department worked to get at-risk youth off the streets Thursday, the coldest day of the year, with wind chills dipping to -35 degrees.

The department's Homeless Action Team patrolled bus stops and train stations, offering warm gear and rides to shelters.

"A lot of these people that are part of our community don't have anywhere else to go," said Officer Tommy Eam. "If it's cold, they can have frostbite, they can freeze to death, so it's very crucial."

The unit partners with local shelters and drop-in centers, like YouthLink in Minneapolis, transporting homeless youth to safe spaces.

"It's critical for us to be that spot for those young people," said YouthLink Executive Director Heather Huseby. "Otherwise, there is no other spot and they would stay outside and the harm that could come to them is very quick."

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"I don't know what I'd be doing right now if this didn't exist," said Jaz Voscane, an 18-year-old who's been homeless for nearly a year. "That's why I'm grateful for it."

YouthLink is now open 24 hours a day, as of last month. Huseby said they expanded their hours to become an overnight center following a call to action from state leaders to address the homeless population in Minnesota, especially in the cold months this winter. Huseby added that the partnership with Metro Transit Police helps keep even more kids out of the cold.

"They're unsung heroes in that they're not just there to arrest a young person, they're there to help them and get them the services they need," Huseby said. "It's a partnership to save a life and it's a partnership to bring long-term stability to young people."

YouthLink is accepting donations of cold-weather gear right now. For more information, click here.