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Bozeman's Warming Center opens doors for winter

Bozeman's Warming Center opens doors...

BOZEMAN, Mont. - The Human Resource Development Council's Warming Center in Bozeman opened its doors Tuesday night for the first time this season to help keep people out of the cold after dark.

For most of us staying warm for the winter is not too difficult.

"We use heaters, and we use a pellet stove and propane heat mainly," said Dave McKenzie, an Idaho resident.

"I stay indoors and read books and bundle up," said Nancy Hoag, a Bozeman resident.

For those who are homeless it is a challenge, especially when it snows. The Warming Center serves men, women and children in the Gallatin Valley who are experiencing homelessness.

The center is open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., seven days a week from now until March.

"We'll be serving probably more than 200 different folks over the course of our season," said Sara Savage, the housing director at the HRDC. "Most nights we see 30 to 40 guests that are experiencing homelessness in our community."

Savage told NBC Montana at any given point more than 100 people are homeless in the area, whether that means doubling or tripling up in a place or sleeping in a car or even outside.

The men's bunk room holds 32 people on a first-come, first-served basis.

The center is 100 percent community funded. Donations of blankets, pillows and other supplies help the effort, while volunteers come in to help out too.

The center also received new lockers over the summer with the support of local area churches. 

Savage said the guests are grateful.

"For many of them they have been struggling to figure out where to sleep each night, and having a safe place for them to go fills them with such gratitude," she said.

Savage added that affordable housing continues to be a challenge here, which she said makes it much harder for people to get back into housing.

In addition to the Warming Center the HRDC tries to connect the homeless with long-term housing resources and rental assistance.

For more information on how to help out the Warming Center you can click here.


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