‘This type of weather can take a person’s life’: Advocates call to open warming centers for homeless

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – As temperatures continue to drop homeless advocates say now is the time for warming centers across the city to open. 

“This type of weather can take a person’s life,” said Joseph Smith, advocacy director at Sacramento Loaves and Fishes. “This morning when we woke up, it’s cold.”

But the option of opening warming centers in Sacramento County doesn’t kick in until there are three consecutive nights of 32 degrees or below. But homeless advocates call that guidance ridiculous 

“I think those rules are made by people who don’t have to stay outside all night. When you get that cold, it’s impossible to get warm,” Smith told FOX40.

Bob Erlenbusch with Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness told FOX40 the cold weather may have claimed its first homeless victim. 

“He was found drenched to the bone. His sleeping bag was soaked. We don’t know the exact cause of death, but we believe it being 37 degrees and being soaked to the bone had a lot to do with it,” Erlenbusch explained. 

Erlenbusch said the number of people dying while experiencing homelessness is rising.

“Then it bumped to 100, 120. In 2019, there were 138 deaths the coroner’s office documented,” Erlenbusch told FOX40. 

“We must open warming centers,” said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

Mayor Steinberg said during the council meeting he wants to see warming centers open even if it means changing the three-consecutive-day guidance. 

“If there is another way to do it, then we need to find another way. It is cold and it’s not even winter yet,” Steinberg said.

Advocates say they are pleased to have the mayor on board.

At the end of the day, the people impacted are human beings. 

“These are our neighbors, someone’s children. They are someone’s brother, sister, mother, father,”  Smith said.

Mayor Steinberg said if the city needs to do this alone, then they will. 

Erlenbusch said advocates will meet with Sacramento County Supervisor and Chairman Phil Serna Thursday in hopes of getting the county on board.

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