A group of concerned citizens calling themselves Residents for Coldest Nights Warming Centers (The Warming Group), are calling on the Homeless Services Center, the City and County of Santa Cruz, churches, and other groups with large indoor spaces or other resources to come together to continue a conversation about how to create, maintain, and publicize warming centers where homeless people can get out of the elements when temperatures plummet to deadly lows, or when the weather is otherwise extreme.
Added to the calendar on Wednesday Jan 8th, 2014 8:42 PM
In their meetings, they hope to bring in members of the community who might have access to appropriate spaces. The next meeting is on January 14th at 7 pm at 535 Spring Street. They plan to have regular meetings to develop the vision. For more details visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/warmingcenter Anyone with an idea to help further the vision of creating warming centers is welcome.
Our most severe cold snap this past December brought sad news of several homeless individuals in San Jose freezing to death. Many in Santa Cruz wondered if some of our homeless would die from lack of shelter on our coldest nights.
A recent study by Applied Survey Research found that among the more than 3,500 homeless individuals in Santa Cruz County, 82% of homeless residents in Santa Cruz County, and 69% in the City of Santa Cruz remain unsheltered. On nights when the temperature plummets to extreme lows, such a lack of shelter can be deadly.
December’s harshest cold spell galvanized numerous blanket and coat drives, and the Homeless Services Center and various churches opened all their available spaces to take in as many people as possible. However, The Warming Group remains concerned that Santa Cruz City and County lack sufficient (and sufficiently well-known and accessed) warm spaces available to shelter the homeless, especially on nights when the emergency shelter at the Armory is unavailable due to the National Guard schedule.
The Warming Group invites folks for their “proactive participation.” Jane Yett, a member of the groups says “We need to take the initiative to help ensure greater safety from potentially life-threatening circumstances during the cold winter months. It is our hope that those with usable indoor spaces will move forward as quickly as possible to provide ad-hoc warming centers that can be put in place before the next cold spell. Longer term, we see the need for a more comprehensively organized program that can be put in place to meet the needs of those who might otherwise freeze to death.”
The group says the steering committee of the Association of Faith Communities recently voted to endorse the proposal for a warming center.
A warming center is simply a space operated with the mission of preventing loss of life due to the elements. It is a physical location that provides heat and plumbing on the coldest nights.
Yett adds, "we believe this effort draws upon a broadly-shared humanitarian concern that unites our community."