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Bozeman shelter facing challenges as temperatures drop - KBZK.com | Continuous News | Bozeman, Montana

Bozeman shelter facing challenges as temperatures drop

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BOZEMAN -

It’s been a blessing actually, sleeping out in the cold is no fun."

That’s Gregory Jernagan, a homeless man, who since November 1, spends his nights at the Warming Center in Bozeman.

Before that?

"I stayed at the Walmart a few days and then found a pine tree,” Jernagan said. “I got pine needles in my hands and feet, but I survived and  waited for the Warming Center to open."

During the day the warming center is closed, the parking lot is empty. But by 6:30 p.m. the parking lot will be full and a line of people outside waiting for them to open at 7 p.m.

“Since we've opened our doors we've had over 95 different people come in just our first month,” said Sara Savage, of the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC). “On average, we see about 200, this year our numbers are going to be even higher."

So who are Bozeman’s homeless?

“One in five is a female, we've had four different families that have stay with us in the first month,” Savage said. “Twenty percent are veterans, many are disabled , 20 percent are working."

Savage blames a lack of affordable housing for much of the homelessness. And she says this could be the first time they have to turn people away.

“With numbers this high in the season we're anticipating this will be the season, the winter we'll have to ask folks to leave because there's no room in the building,” said Savage.

Another challenge - funding.

The overall budget is paid for entirely with donations, more than $200,000 a year.

So far they’ve raised about $50,000.

This shortfall could close the doors before the scheduled last day of the season - March 31.

That shortfall could leave people like Jernagan out in the cold.

“I'm so grateful,” he said. “So grateful.”

Right now, aside from donations, the warming center needs men's gloves and hand warmers....

Click here to find out how to make a donation.

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