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Cold temperatures spur efforts to protect homeless

Service providers are taking emergency measures to ensure homeless people are safe as freezing weather grips Sonoma County.

In Santa Rosa, Catholic Charities is setting up warming stations in its drop-in facility at 600 Morgan St. and serving hot drinks through the night.

Depending on staff and volunteer availability, “Our goal is to be open from 10 p.m. to when we open at 6 a.m.,” said Jennielynn Holmes, director of shelter and housing.

“They're really worried,” she said of the agency's homeless clients. “They're trying to figure out where they're going to go and trying to get as many warm clothing items as possible.”

Many homeless people, she said, are walking during the night in order to survive and sleeping during the day.

In Petaluma, the Mary Isaac Center shelter is in severe weather mode and has added 20 beds. Mike Johnson, CEO of Committee on the Shelterless, which runs the shelter, said those extra beds never have been filled. If they are, he said, anyone in need would be let in.

“We're in the business of saving lives,” he said.

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