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Warming Center thousands short, could delay opening next year

By Lauren Maschmedt, KTVM Anchor, lmaschmedt@ktvm.com
Published On: Apr 18 2013 03:30:23 AM MDT
Updated On: Apr 17 2013 09:11:35 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Jennifer Martin and Jeremy Higgins are homeless residents in Bozeman. Jennifer is pregnant. "Almost five months," she said. Jeremy has a broken ankle. "I'm having surgery on Friday," he said.

They were staying at the Warming Center, but that closed a few weeks ago. And they say finding a place to stay has been difficult. Sometimes they have to camp out, even in freezing temperatures.

"It's very overwhelming," Higgins said. "It's scary -- you don't know what to do from [one] day to the next."

They said Bozeman has some great community resources. But some of those services are dwindling.

"We're short about $20,000 for what we need to operate this season," said Sara Savage, with the Human Resources Development Council (HRDC).

She said they came up short this season for the Warming Center. Donations are down, and that means their programs suffer.

In the Warming Center, yellow bags are filled with over 100 blankets used for the beds. Right now they are being stored for next season, but Savage said next season may come a lot later than usual.

"Now with what we're looking at for funding, it looks like we probably won't be able to open until mid or end of December," she said. Usually, the Warming Center opens in November.

The HRDC is hoping to rent out the space during the off season to help offset costs, and brainstorm other ways to raise money.

But Savage said unless funds turn around, homeless residents like Higgins and Martin will have to survive in the cold- like they're trying to do now.

"It's stressful, I get a lot of anxiety attacks because of it," Higgins said, adding "I just try to... stay on the the positive. All we can do is stay in the positive."

We checked with other homeless resources to see where they stand, like Family Promise. They tell us they're open and able to house one to three homeless families.