As winter brings in colder weather to San Luis Obispo, local homeless shelter 40 Prado is preparing to help the homeless population stay warm.
According to the 40 Prado website, the warming center is open from November to March. A warming center’s purpose is to provide more housing for people who are homeless during the colder months, according to the website.
With COVID-19, the warming center has had to change a bit. When participants accessing the warming center arrive, they must have their temperature checked and are unable to interact with the everyday residents in 40 Prado.
Additionally, there is plexiglass between each bed spaced six feet apart, according to Grace McIntosh, the deputy director of 40 Prado. Participants are required to wear masks during the day and until they go to their bunks for the night, she said.
If the temperature drops below 38 degrees or if there’s more than a 50% chance of rain, the warming center is opened, according to 40 Prado manager Jared Erb.
The warming center is located in 40 Prado’s dining hall from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., Erb said.
Audio by Lily Dallow
The capacity for the warming center is 14 people on a first-come, first-serve basis, Erb said. The website states that those who want to stay in the center may arrive from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. However, if people chose to leave the warming center, they may not be able to return that night. Pets are welcome as well.
Typically those that are utilizing the warming center are resistant to housing and prefer to camp outside, Erb said. However, he said that he wants those people to know that they have a safe place to stay in the cold temperatures.
Those in the warming centers receive dinner at night and coffee the following morning.
People can donate regular ground coffee, sleeping bags and tents to the shelter, Erb said.
Erb said that the San Luis Obispo community has stepped up this year and continued to support their programs through donations even in the midst of a pandemic. He said he is receiving calls every single day and that food and sleeping bags are being donated.
The number to call to receive updates for the 40 Prado warming center is 211 or people can text their zip code to 898211.