First Warming Centers Open to Sacramento Homeless

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SACRAMENTO -- Christmas Eve and the first night of Hanukkah aren't what make this Saturday special. For homeless men and women it's a night they can spend out of the cold.

A warming center in downtown Sacramento and a local mosque opened their doors to the homeless Saturday.

"Tonight's beautiful; keeps me from sleeping under a bridge," said Tony Gladden who is homeless.

As the temperature dipped below 40 degrees, the city of Sacramento launched the first night of its warming center expansion program.

"I'm really excited to help and provide additional services," said Shannon Brown of Sacramento Parks and Recreation.

Sacramento police officers patted down guests as they came in. Snacks, blankets and chairs were waiting for them inside. A handful of people, including Mayor Darrell Steinberg, trickled in to the South Side Park pool building Saturday evening.

"Every one of these people who we don't know by name has a name, and they have a history and they have family. And most of them once had better lives," Mayor Steinberg said. "And we have to remember the humanity of this as well; and as a city we are going to do better."

Across town, SALAM Mosque was doing the same but just for the night. More than 100 people turned out for the annual event that hosts the homeless. The mosque offered dinner and will provide breakfast Sunday morning.

Sacramento resources are filled with the giving spirit. It's a time to help those in need and that exactly what they're doing.

"We as a community should do whatever we can to share God's bounties among us," said Metwalli Amer, executive director of SALAM Mosque.

The warming center on 6th Street is expected to be open every night until Dec. 27. After that, as long as the temperature is below 40 degrees and the Pilgrimage Rotating Shelter isn't open, the pool building will be.