By Drew Bollea

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The controversial winter homeless shelter in North Sacramento has been open for two weeks. While the facility isn’t at full capacity, some are saying they’re already seeing the benefits.

“I really didn’t expect that to happen. It is so great. I can’t really believe it,” said Mary Briggs.

She came into the shelter when it opened on Dec. 8.

Briggs has been homeless ever since being evicted from her apartment when she couldn’t pay her bills after a disability forced her out of work.

“It was pretty dramatic because I had lived there for 15 years,” said Briggs.

Briggs and 50 others have their own bunk, sleeping bag, and storage area inside the 22,000 square foot facility.

“I already know the way I want to live and it definitely is not out there,” said Mary Buck, she’s also been in the shelter for two weeks.

When CBS13 first visited in early December, the building was empty, and when the shelter opened, supplies and equipment were still being brought in.

“Every day we’ll continue to bring in a few more people,” said Christie Holderegger, the vice president of development for the Volunteers of America.

More than 50 people are staying in the warm warehouse. The total capacity of 200 is expected to be reached by January.

“There is going to be 16 individuals in here,” said Holderegger pointing out one of the pods that are still under construction.

She says pods will provide privacy and a sense of community, but they all must be built before more people can come in.

“They get here, and they realize that we are here to help and we want to get them connected with housing,” said Holderegger.

Holderegger says one person has been placed in permanent housing and dozens more are in meetings with possible landlords.

“It’s up to them,” said Holderegger, “we’re not just going to say this is where you have to live. They have to make that decision on their own.”

The shelter is seen as a way to improve not only living condition but the mindset of many on the streets.

“Very hopeful, very very hopeful,” said Briggs with a smile.

The winter shelter costs roughly $2 million to set up and operate. It will remain open until March.

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