North Idaho

Loss of warming center limits options for homeless

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - As the snow falls and the temperature drops, warming centers like Fresh Start in Coeur d'Alene and St. Vincent de Paul are already seeing new faces looking for help.

Fresh Start is a safe haven for those with no roof over their head when the temperature drops below 25 degrees. Dean Berkness would know. He's toughed it out when it's just a few degrees warmer.

"In my vehicle it's pretty rough when it gets 25 degrees and below 54," Berkness said.

Loss of warming center limits options for homeless

St. Vincent de Paul's is open under the same rules, that's when Ignite Hope came into play last year. It's doors were open every night.

"I came here and over there.  I slept here too (at Fresh Start) when it was open. When this was closed I would go over there," Berkness said.

But for now, Ignite Hope is closed, because the building it used last year is now home to a manufacturing business. While Ignite Hope searches for a new location, many advocates are worried there won't be enough room to keep our the homeless warm this winter. 

At this point both Fresh Start and St. Vincent de Paul do not know of any other warming center that's open every night regardless of the weather. It most likely means people will head towards their warming center for safety.

But there is one place that's easing some of the pressure, the new Union Gospel mission for women and children. It's housing over 20 people but they have to apply to get in.

In the meantime, people like Berkness say a long term shelter would be great, but is thankful for everything the community is already doing.

"I have a lot of help, they do help people as much as they can. It makes a difference," he said.