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Bozeman homeless brave harsh winter conditions

By Grace Ditzler, KTVM Reporter, gditzler@ktvm.com
Published On: Feb 28 2014 06:51:11 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

The severe winter weather is taking a toll on the homeless population in Bozeman.

Bozeman is dealing with bitter cold and some homeless residents told NBC Montana they spend up to seven hours a day outside in the conditions.

Ramsey Cambrelen explained this winter is the worst he has ever experienced, and it is even harder because he is homeless.

"It's a battle. It's a battle," he said, "it really is."

Cambrelen explained what an average day is like for someone who doesn't have a place to live during these harsh conditions, explaining "I get a real breakfast at the Salvation Army at 7:30, and after that I walk slowly toward the library."

Though he has to brave the elements to walk everywhere around town, Cambrelen tries to stay out of the cold by spending time at the library or Mental Health Drop-In Center. Then, he said he heads to the Community Cafe for dinner, and spends the night at the Warming Center.

"We're just trying to hide from the cold," explained Brent Martin, who is also homeless. "it made me cry. I was like, 'wow, there's nothing else really to do.'"

Both explained they just have to take it one day at a time, but said Bozeman's Warming Center is critical to their survival.

"The number of guests that are staying with us are definitely increasing," explained Sara Savage, the Housing Department Director with the Human Resource Development Council.

Savage explained 38 people stayed the night in the Warming Center this week, which is near capacity.

"Its so critical to provide a safe, warm place for them to stay," Savage explained.   

Michael MacDonald said before he started staying at the Warming Center, he slept under a freeway interchange.

"I ended up with hypothermia essentially," he explained.

He said after nearly getting hypothermia from being out in the cold, he knows first hand what a difference it makes to have a safe and warm place to sleep during severe winter storms.

The Warming Center is funded through community donations, and this year they only have enough resources to stay open until March 31.