Saturday, October 20 , 2018, 11:49 pm | Fair 59º


Warming Centers Offer Shelter When Weather is Rough

Winter weather preparedness for the Freedom Warming Centers are in place and ready to activate when weather conditions reach a certain threshold creating unsafe inclement weather conditions that can become dangerous to the health and in some cases the life of individuals without shelter.

Freedom Warming Centers are open 6 p.m.-6 a.m. Nov. 15-March 30, when weather conditions reach 35 degrees or there is a 50 percent chance of rain.

Freedom Warming Centers host sites are in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara, Isla Vista, Lompoc and Santa Maria. For information about activation and location, call the Freedom Warming Centers hotline, 324-2372.

A warming center is a short-term emergency shelter that operates when temperatures or a combination of weather conditions become extreme and may be life-threatening for individuals, many with life-threatening health conditions.

In 2009, a Santa Barbara homeless man, who friends called Freedom, died on the streets on a cold and rainy night.

In response, a group of homeless advocates, faith communities and others began working on solutions that would reduce or eliminate the chances of anyone dying from winter conditions in Santa Barbara County.

From those meetings, the Freedom Warming Centers opened their doors. Determined to honor the gentleman called Freedom, this group made the decision to call the warming centers serving Santa Barbara County the Freedom Warming Centers.

Freedom Warming Centers is the only program providing countywide warming center services.

Freedom Warming Centers can be a gateway for homeless individuals seeking recovery and/or housing services and other resources. Individuals who access warming centers have fewer emergency room visits and are less likely to be housed in jails.

When activated countywide the Freedom Warming Centers serve some 200 individuals a night, 1,000 unduplicated. The average age of someone accessing the Freedom Warming Centers is 45 years old and 85 percent are men.

Since the beginning, the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara has provided leadership and has acted as fiscal agent for the Freedom Warming Centers.

“We cannot allow our neighbors to die on our doorstep,” said the Rev. Julia Hamilton, lead minister at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara. "That is not who we want to be here in Santa Barbara County.

"The Freedom Warming Centers provide life-saving shelter for those who have nowhere else to go,” she said.

To learn more about the Freedom Warming Centers, to donate or volunteer your time, call 636-5174.

— Kathy Hayes for Freedom Warming Centers.



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