Warming centers packed in Detroit

By Lauren Podell - Reporter
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DETROIT - The Cass Community warming center in Detroit was full Wednesday morning.

More than 50 homeless women and children slept on mattress, covered up with blankets and woke up warm. But getting off the streets for a night is just the beginning of what this warming center provides.

"When they wake up we give them a hot meal, coffee and they can wash their clothes," said volunteer, Bridgette Floyd. "We give them shampoo, a tooth brush anything they may need."

The warming centers are just one resource the city is leaning on to prevent the homeless from getting frostbite or hypothermia. The other is the Wayne County Sheriff's Department.

They've started a program called "Cold Weather Patrol" where deputies hit the streets to help the homeless find shelter.

"It's sub-zero out there no one should be stuck outside," said Paula Bridges, spokesperson for the Wayne County Sheriff's Department. "So we said to ourselves what can we do to help?"

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The Cass Community Center's normal hours are from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m., but when temperatures are below 20 degrees they extend the hours until noon. 

"I've been running this center for a very long time," said Reverend Faith Fowler. "But the appreciation we've received from people staying in the warming center is incredible. Some are telling me how nice it is to have more than one blanket, it makes what we do here worth it." 

Another warming center that is open, Operation Get Down. This facility, off of E. Grand Blvd. and I-94, holds over 200 people and is open to men. 

"This is the first step to saving a life, even if they can stay warm for just one night," said Reverend Fowler. 

The city will keep the warming centers open until March.

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