Homeless Shelters Scramble to Provide Beds for Winter Cold

Homeless Shelters Scramble to Provide Beds for Winter Cold
By Ann Notarangelo

There are 8000 homeless people in Contra Costa County. On any given night, half of them are without a warm place to sleep. Danny Colombo at the Trinity Center in Walnut Creek is worried about them.

“I wake up in the middle of the night wondering how people are doing,” she said. “In the morning the first thing I do is check the temperature.”

Trinity Center helps homeless people everyday, but for the next few nights, it will activate an emergency response and welcome 12 men and women onto the floor.

Volunteers have stepped up to staff the shifts. They plan to stay up all night, even on New Year’s Eve.

“We have 3 volunteers, we are going to bring in movies,” said Columbo.

Half of the homeless in this county are families. Sue stays in a shelter with her 2-year-old daughter run by Shelter,Inc. She said she knows what it’s like to be cold after living in a foreclosure with no electricity.

“You can’t put enough blankets on to get warm. It’s that cold,” she said.

Sharon Bernhus of Shelter, Inc. said they usually provide a roof for 7 families. Because of the cold snap, they are putting in extra cots so they can welcome 2 more.

“We have more calls coming into us from those agencies and from churches… we have a lot of women who are expecting babies who are out there.”

Contra Costa churches offer shelter to homeless families on a rotating basis. Monday night, nearly 30 people will sleep at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Not everyone is getting warm, though. Columbo said for some, that means a trip to the emergency room, even death.

“Especially people who have chronic health issues or are elderly. It doesn’t take very much for that to happen.”


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