Homeless: Sacramento warming center opening up downtown

The warming center is at Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, where there’ll be spots to rest inside along with some snacks and warm beverages.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A cold snap in the forecast has Sacramento officials opening up a warming center for the homeless in the city’s downtown area.

“According to the National Weather Service (NWS), nighttime temperatures could dip down to 32 degrees on Tuesday night,” said Daniel Bowers, the city’s director of emergency management. “This warming center will provide people with a safe, comfortable place where they can rest.”

The warming center will be set up at Tsakopoulos Library Galleria at 828 I Street; it’s a spot chosen for its centralized location and ease of access for homeless persons in the downtown corridor and Cesar Chavez Plaza.

Mask wearing will be required, and if anyone doesn’t have a mask, they can get one provided to them at the center. Other COVID-19 precautions will include temperature checks and social distancing, especially for resting spaces which will be set 12 feet apart from one another and separated by partitions.

While social distancing by its nature will reduce some capacity, the city is confident that they’ll be able to meet the need.

People can enter the warming center through the Galleria patio entrance located on 9th Street between I and J streets. There’ll be spots to rest inside along with some snacks and warm beverages. It’ll operate from 9 p.m. Dec. 29 to 6 a.m. Dec. 30

Warming centers in Sacramento follow a guidance plan that requires them to meet certain criteria for opening, which includes temperature thresholds. It requires forecasts of extremely cold weather for more than three days with nighttime temperatures at or below 32 degrees.

Dan Aderhold, founder of American River Homeless Crew, told ABC10 that waiting to open warming centers at 32 degree is too late.

“Right now is too late,” Aderholt told ABC10 on Sunday. “We need to act now to help our homeless right now. Right now, the weather out here is freezing at night. It’s killing people.” 

For Bowers, emergency services director for Sacramento, opening up these warming centers is a balancing act — weighing the risk versus reward.

“I think there’s a lot of converging issues here across the board with the pandemic, you’ve got the cold weather, the over inundation in the hospitals… this is a combined effort to achieve a few different goals here,” Bowers said.

He said there’s more to opening these warming centers that just getting people out of the cold.

“How we operate and kind of decide is in close conjunction with Sacramento County public health officials on what temperatures really need to be met and reached in order to legitimize opening up a congregate setting in the midst of a pandemic,” Bowers said.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg has been calling for more flexibility with warming center openings. In addition to activating warming centers when temperatures drop below 33 degrees in a 24-hour period, the city has also created a motel voucher program to help unsheltered residents during the colder months.

Read more from ABC10

WATCH ALSO: Sacramento warming centers not yet open as temperatures dip to 30s at night

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