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Cold temperatures bring record number of guests to Bozeman’s warming shelter

Warming Center 1.jpeg
HRDC says 83 guests stayed at Bozeman's warming center on Tuesday, the most the shelter has ever seen.

With below-zero temperatures this week, Bozeman’s warming shelter is seeing record demand.

Brain Guyer is the housing director for the Human Resource Development Council, the nonprofit that runs the warming shelter.

He says frigid temperatures Tuesday brought more people into the shelter — people who had been sleeping in RVs and cars this relatively mild winter.

“Last night we were at 83 guests, which is the most that we’ve experienced this year," Guyer said, "and 83 is the most that we’ve ever had in the Bozeman warming center.”

Rising demand and Bozeman’s housing crisis led HRDC to double the shelter’s capacity this year to 120. The shelter is also now providing daytime services with funding from Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services.

“Last year (in Bozeman) we had seven people pass away due to exposure or exposure-related complications," Guyer said. "We certainly don’t want a repeat of that this year, so we try and bring in as many people as possible when temperatures get dangerous like this.”

Bozeman’s seasonal warming shelter is open until March 31. HRDC is planning to build a year-round shelter, but it’s still a few years out.

Olivia Weitz covers Bozeman and surrounding communities in Southwest Montana for Yellowstone Public Radio. She has reported for Northwest News Network and Boise State Public Radio and previously worked at a daily print newspaper. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom Story Workshop.