Hamden is making sure the most vulnerable don’t have to spend the night outside during the coldest time of the year.
Spend a little time talking with Pastor Bob Bergner in Hamden and you’ll hear about the generosity at Grace & St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
Hearts are open, as well as now the doors to the church on cold winter nights.
“We’re committed to serving our community and reaching out to the community and helping people when they need help,” said Rev. Bergner.
Now the church offers a space as a safe and warm place for people to stay and grab a drink and light food.
It’s part of a new town program that started this week to open overnight warming centers, which are not shelters and do not have beds.
“There’s definitely a need for it. Hamden does have a homelessness population,” said Adam Sendroff, Hamden community development manager.
Sendroff says while it’s hard to pin down the number of people, what is clear is they didn’t have a lot of options before to escape the outdoors here.
Only during extreme winter weather did the town open temporary warming spots.
“We found that there’s really a need for more than that and the answer that just saying you can go to into New Haven isn’t a good answer,” said Mayor Curt Balzano Leng.
Leng says the town decided to team up with the Columbus House in New Haven, which helps people who are homeless.
The town will pay $20,000 for Columbus staff to monitor the centers which will run from January 7 through February 28.
People can rest at a center from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m., seven days a week.
“We have to really try and help our people and help people that are in need,” Leng said.
The center will operate at Grace & St. Peter’s for a month then switch to Hamden Plains United Methodist Church at 15 Church Street in Hamden.
Already people have shown up and more are expected as the temperature drops.
Donations can be dropped off at the Keefe Community Center at 11 Pine Street between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
They accept non-perishable foods, pre-wrapped snacked packs, fruits, beverages, new socks and underwear, gloves and hats.