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Rochester warming center hosts more people as weather worsens

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- The Rochester Warming Center first opened its doors in December.

"So our numbers have slowly been climbing over Christmas we were only having about 10 to 12 guests per night," said warming center night shift manager David Poirier.

Warming center coordinator Michael Gwanjaye said since December the number of guests has grown.

"The last couple of nights have been busier than before we had 29, 30, and yesterday we had 31. We are getting more guests as the weather gets bad," he said.

The facility has 30 beds and two sleeping mats. Staff is prepared to service guests if more beds are needed.

"We have arranged an overflow center over at the Soldiers Field Club House. And we will get them Ubers over to the Club House," Poirier said.

The warming center also provides drinks, food, security, a washer and dryer, but extra supplies are always in need.

"We can still deal with more hand warmers, caned food lotions lip balms most small things that they will need to carry with them," Gwanjaye said.

They hope guests will eventually carry those items to a permanent place to stay.

"Our goal would be to have everyone have a warm place to spend at night. but we're getting there one step at a time," Poirier said.

Fox 47 spoke with Rochester Police Captain Jeff Stillwell, who oversees the department's Community Services Division.

He said there have not been any problems in Rochester skyways since the ordinance that prohibited overnight stay went into effect.

KaMaria Braye

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