Homeless seek shelter from the cold at Hartford warming centers

HARTFORD -- The freezing temperatures that have been plaguing Connecticut pose a serious problem for the state's homeless population. Luckily, The Salvation Army created an overnight warming center in Hartford to give people shelter from the cold.

"I have been here a week and a half," says Johnathen Vasquez.

At the Willy Ware Community Center, it's first come, first served for the first 50 people, and those spots go quickly.

"Yes very," says Vasquez. "A lot of people, tonight was the worst night of all."

This warming center is open from 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., and also offers winter necessities to those in need.

"We make sure that they have coats, hats, gloves. We rely off on a lot of donations," says Sarah DiMaio, Salvation Army Program Director. "Hartford police Department actually dropped off some donations over the holiday."

And those donations go a long way.

"I was sleeping under the bridge, oh my god it’s awful," says Vasquez "So we came here and I’m very grateful that we are here, even though we have to sleep on a chair, it’s better than being out there.”

With temperatures well below freezing, The Salvation Army says the homeless population is in dire need of help.

"Salvation Army's mission is to serve those in need," says DiMaio. "And we are really serving the most vulnerable people in greater Hartford.

“It makes me feel happy, in a way because they didn’t have to do that you know they didn’t have to give you a place where you can be warm because they don’t want you in the cold," says Javounie Caesar.

Some of the folks at the shelter say for now, they're keeping a positive attitude and hoping 2018 will finally be a year for some better luck.

"I am pretty sure, I can feel it in my bones," says Vasquez.

"It’s 2018 it’s coming up you know hopefully we can have a new mind new way of thinking new beginning and we don’t have to go through this," says Caesar.

The Willy Ware Community Center will remain open through March, and if you are interested in donating you can visit the Salvation Army website.

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