City opens day warming shelter

By Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – With these bitter cold temperatures, the city is taking additional steps to help those with no place to go. For the first time this year, it's opening a shelter during the day.

At six o'clock in the morning the sun is not yet up, the temperatures are still below freezing but those who stay at the city's overflow shelter are back on the streets.

"It's cold as crap out there," Jacinto Hall told us. "It is real cold."

He has taken whatever measures necessary to stay warm. Like many homeless people, most of the time, he has failed.

"These are actually grown people that done had something at one time and they're balled up on the ground and it's cold," he said.

With people so desperate for a place to stay and the mercury struggling to rise, the city is opening the Freedom House Conrad Center, at 6 a.m. again on Wednesday and it will stay open all day.

"It gives you hope," he explained. "It gives you hope."

Those who come in for a respite from the bone chilling cold can get three hot meals for free.

The Conrad Center closes at 6 p.m. So at 7, the people who would normally have to spend the night on the street come to the Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, which serves as the city's overflow shelter.

That's where we found George Buras who explained if you've never been through it, it's difficult to see just how tough the wintry air makes life on the streets.

"I spent time in the bunkers and what have you. I served in Vietnam and you know what, it's easy compared to this," he said.

According to him, the shelter is a step up from sleeping in a car or on the frigid ground.

"We sleep on concrete with a half inch pad and that's all we have but it's better than nothing," he explained.

The Freedom House Conrad Center is located at 1400 Oliver Hill Way near the city jail. It will be open 6 a.m. through 6 p.m. It will continue these hours through Sunday.

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