City of Sacramento opens warming center to support unsheltered residents

With the National Weather Service forecasting temperatures below 33 degrees for Tuesday night, the City of Sacramento, in coordination with the County of Sacramento and the Sacramento Public Library, will open a warming center to help unsheltered residents cope with the cold weather.

The warming center, at Tsakopoulos Library Galleria (828 I St.), will operate from 9 p.m. Dec. 29 to 6 a.m. Dec. 30, offering a place for people to be indoors as well as snacks and warm beverages.

“According to the National Weather Service, nighttime temperatures could dip down to 32 degrees on Tuesday night,” said Daniel Bowers, the City’s director of emergency management. “This warming center will provide people with a safe, comfortable place where they can rest.”

The City worked with Sacramento County Public Health on the temperature thresholds for activating the warming center. Temperatures are expected to increase starting Wednesday.

In accordance with State and County public-health orders, all attendees at the warming center are required to wear a mask or face covering to protect themselves and others against the spread of COVID-19 (unless they are sleeping). If an individual does not have a mask, one will be provided for them. Resting spaces will be set 12 feet apart from one another to ensure proper social distancing and will be separated by partitions.

To access the warming center, attendees should use the Galleria patio entrance located on 9th Street between I and J streets.

In general, the City subscribes to the Sacramento region’s Severe Weather Guidance plan, which outlines specific temperatures and time periods required to open both warming and cooling centers. The plan was created by Sacramento County health officials, homeless advocates and the National Weather Service.

Temperatures this winter have not yet hit the thresholds specified by the plan for opening warming centers, which include forecasts of extremely cold/freezing weather for more than three days accompanied by nighttime temperatures of 32 degrees or less.

However, Mayor Darrell Steinberg earlier this month called on City staff to work with the County to develop plans for opening warming centers that allow for more flexibility.

In addition to activating warming centers when temperatures fall below 33 degrees for a 24-hour period — a threshold recommended by Sacramento County Public Health — the City has expanded its motel voucher program to assist unsheltered residents during colder months.

The City has used $35,000 of remaining CARES Act stimulus funds to reserve motel rooms for unsheltered families and individuals. These vouchers are being managed and distributed by the City’s newly formed Office of Community Response. Priority will be given to families and those most vulnerable to the elements.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the City — in partnership with the County, Sacramento Steps Forward and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) — have sheltered more than 1,300 people experiencing homelessness in motel rooms and trailers.

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