The city of Washington, D.C, counted its homeless population last winter at about 7,000 people, and so far, only about 1,700 of them have checked into area shelters this winter.
District residents James Bernard and June Lewis told The Washington Post Wednesday that they've been homeless for years and plan to stay outdoors as temperatures plunge into single digits. The 64-year-olds say they feel better in their makeshift home than inside a homeless shelter.
Lewis says she isn't going to a shelter because "it ain't safe." News outlets have reported cases of sexual abuse and poor conditions at area shelters.
District Interagency Council on Homelessness Director Kristy Greenwalt says the city can detain homeless people against their will for 48 hours while they undergo psychiatric evaluations in "really extreme circumstances."