SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The city of Sacramento opened an emergency warming shelter for people living on the streets Thursday night.
The move was partially a response to two people who’ve died in the past two weeks while staying outside City Hall.
“Some nights it gets pretty cold,” said William Mercer.
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He and his dog Chico live on the streets. They won’t be cold on Thursday night.
“This is great,” said Mercer with a smile.
The old IT center for the city was transformed into a shelter for people living on the street.
“There were wires dangling from the ceilings, broken glass; we steam cleaned the carpets. We got the restrooms up and running,” said Howard Chan, the interim city manager.
The space is now a warm and safe alternative to the outdoors.
“We lost one guy a couple weeks ago and then we lost the other one yesterday,” said Mercer getting choked up. “He was a friend of mine.”
“It’s our obligation to do everything we can to try and prevent that,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg.
He along with a handful of city council members and local organizations got to work Wednesday to prepare the shelter to accommodate 40 people and their pets.
“I think Sacramento is going to show that it is a compassionate city,” said City Councilman Jay Schenirer.
“It’s going to take a village. It takes all our city to solve this problem,” said City Councilman Eric Gurerra.
City Councilwoman Angelique Ashby made calls to raise the $28,000 needed to keep the shelter open for the next three weeks.
“Nobody told me no, that I called. Not a soul,” said Ashby.
The day after a death near Sacramento City Hall, a call for help is answered.
“When people actually work together, they can do something like this in a day and a half,” said Mercer.
Steinberg also announced his plan to have the Sacramento Housing Authority direct 1600 units specifically for homeless people. The Housing Authority wait list has thousands of elderly and low-income families bidding for one of several hundred spots. It’s unclear how Steinberg’s directive may impact those waiting.