Warming centers open during bitterly cold weekend

Providing a warm space in the cold temperatures

Providing a warm space in the cold temperatures

It’s a weekend of bitter cold and brutal wind chills below zero in Minnesota.

“This is when the cold really gets dangerous,” declares Abigail Holtz, with Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities.

Just ask Bruce, a guest at the facility, who doesn’t want his last name used.

He hauls his possessions using a dolly — and says he’s living in his car, even on the coldest days.

“I can’t afford the rent, it’s too expensive,” Bruce says. “When it’s minus, you don’t fall asleep completely, you fall asleep for just a couple of hours.”

“We definitely see an increase in the number of people coming into us during these cold times,” Holtz adds.

Union Gospel Mission provides food and shelter for about 300 people.

Its men’s campus is open 24/7 and has warming spaces open during the day, including weekends.

“Having somewhere overnight is great,” Holtz says. “But if it’s still negative 10 or 20 during the day, important to have somewhere to go during that type of low.”

Other organizations in the metro are expanding daytime hours.

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Listening House in St. Paul is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Catholic Charities has added new daytime warming spaces hours, both in Minneapolis and St. Paul.   

Hennepin County is offering up several libraries and the Government Center as daytime warming spaces this weekend.

“Just a place to get out of the cold, stay warm and just relax,” says Scott Duimstra, the library director of Hennepin County Library. “Well, I think it’s important and it’s just a reminder that our public libraries are public spaces.”

At the Minneapolis Central Library, numerous people took advantage of the atrium and public areas to take a break from the cold.

“I pretty much come here every morning,” says Anthony, who didn’t want to give out his last name. “I got somewhere like to come to. They’re open pretty much every day. I like that.”

Back at the Union Gospel Mission, Holtz explained services include more than warming spaces.

“We do everything we can to make sure we have blankets, hats, coats, mittens, boots — all of those things someone might need when it’s getting a bit colder,” she says.

Guests can also get a hot meal here — food is served three times a day.

Leon Edwards, who says he’s been without shelter for years, says he’s just glad to be indoors. “Yeah, ‘cos it’s pretty cold out there,” he says. “It’s like zero degrees or something like that, don’t know the exact temperature but it’s pretty cold out there.”