City of Cambridge

Winter Warming Center

Harvard Square in the Snow

The Warming Center is a welcoming and safe drop in center where unsheltered adults can come and spend the night and be safe from the environmental hazards of the street during the winter months.

The Center will offer a safe space, with beverages and a hot meal, access to bathrooms, and the ability to rest on a yoga mat on the floor. The Center will be open 11 hours each night, 7 nights weekly during the winter months.

Once guests come, they will be asked to stay on site, will go through a safety check, and they will store their personal belongings.

In the morning, transportation will be waiting to bring all overnight guests to a local shelter. The Warming Center will operate in the basement of the Senior Center, with access solely thru the rear parking lot on Green Street.

Our primary concern is to ensure optimal health and safety for all guests, staff, and nearby neighbors. Our Center aims to do this on a foundation of respect, dignity, and welcome for all comers, despite the experiences and challenges they are facing.

Common Questions

Why is Cambridge opening a Winter Warming Center for persons experiencing homelessness who are currently staying outdoors?

Our community has identified the need for additional resources for adult individuals in Cambridge who are not able to stay in conventional shelters, due to personal circumstances or mental health conditions. These individuals sleep outdoors by default and are subject to hazardous conditions, especially during the winter months. Concerned stakeholders have been in a planning process for the past year to bring an indoor overnight warming center to Cambridge during the winter season.

What are the goals of the Warming Center?

The objective is to provide a welcoming, low threshold, indoor overnight service that will provide food, a safe place to rest, and protection from inclement weather. Information regarding community resources and services will also be available.

Who will be operating the Warming Center?

The City issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a provider to operate the Warming Center. Bay Cove Human Services was selected to operate the service. Bay Cove Human Services/ CASPAR, Inc. currently operates shelter and outreach services in Cambridge. They also have experience with operating a night center and warming center in Boston.

How will staff work with other community partners?

Bay Cove is actively working with multiple city departments, the Cambridge Police Department, first responders, outreach teams, and other homeless service providers to plan and launch the initial season of the winter warming center. Outreach and police partners will support Warming Center operations by offering transport to individuals who are residing outdoors during extreme weather and are interested in getting indoors for the evening.

Where will it be located and what will be the hours of operation?

The Warming Center will share seasonal nighttime space in the basement of the Cambridge Senior Center located at 806 Massachusetts Avenue. The service will operate from approximately 7:30 PM to 6:30 AM, 7 nights per week. We anticipate opening in mid-January of 2018 and the service will continue through March.

How many people will likely come to the Warming Center and how will guests be supported?

Based on data available about individuals sleeping outdoors during the winter, we anticipate that an average of 25-35 guests will utilize the Warming Center per evening. In addition to food and an indoor space to rest, guests will be assisted in connecting to first responders regarding all serious health and safety concerns. Additionally, information regarding other community services will be available. This will include providing direct access to the Cambridge Coordinated Access Network (C-CAN) to be assessed for potential housing opportunities.

How will you prevent lingering/other neighborhood impacts outside the Warming Center?

The Warming Center is intended to ensure optimal health and safety for all guests, staff, and nearby neighbors. Guests will be welcomed to the space through an intake process on the interior of the building, thereby limiting time spent outdoors. Staff will monitor guests during outside breaks. The Cambridge Police Department has also committed to assigning an officer to the area during the warming center season.

Where will guests go in the morning?

Breakfast will be served at 5:30 AM each morning and guests will depart by 6:30 AM. The CASPAR First Step Homeless Outreach Team will provide transport for the warming center guests to the emergency services shelter in the morning.

Page was posted on 1/2/2018 11:57 AM

Got feedback?

Please provide your feedback below: