City Activates Warming Centers

December 16, 2008 5:00:00 PM PST
The city of Fresno has activated its warming center at the Frank H. Ball Community Center to provide the homeless with a warm place to sleep. The center is only open overnight, so people are finding other ways to stay warm during the daytime.Dozens of people browsed through books at Fresno County's Central Library Monday, but it was clear some really came to stay warm. One man was seen asleep with his head down over his backpack. "We do see a lot of people come in to the library, as a place of refuge, to get out of the cold," said Fresno County Library's Roberta Barton.

As a chilly wind blew through downtown Fresno, people who call Fresno's tent city home gathered around a fire to make lunch and stay warm. For the homeless, tents and homemade shacks are the only protection they have from the cold. To help, the city of Fresno has activated a warming center at the Frank H. Ball Community Center. There, people are invited to sleep on cots. They open the center when the temperature is forecast to be below 36 degrees. "We opened it last night it wasn't quite 36 degrees but it was a good chance for us to do a dry run," said the director of Fresno's Parks and Recreation Department.

Sunday night, only six people took advantage of the shelter. And some like Manuel Hernandez say they prefer staying outside. "They got too many rules, and out here I mean, there are rules, yes, but it's not like going in there and this and that," said Hernandez.

Hernandez says he's been living on the street so long the cold doesn't bother him. Though he's glad the city is offering shelter, he's going to pass. "The plan is I got plenty of blankets due to the generosity of the people that come out here and give us their support. I stay very warm," said Hernandez.

The city of Fresno will be using a van to take people to and from the warming center, which they expect will be open all week. They say if they get a large crowd, they are prepared to open another.

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