Special offer

Bozeman Warming Shelter Opens for Area Homeless

Real Estate Agent with PureWest, Inc.

The Warming Center shelter for the Bozeman area’s homeless has opened for the season, though it has yet to raise enough money to stay open all winter.

The no-frills Warming Center opened the day after Thanksgiving, five weeks earlier than last year. It is again located in an old office building on the west side of the Gallatin County Fairgrounds, but this winter it has several improvements.


Instead of outhouses, it has an indoor toilet. It has added bunk beds, thanks to donated lumber from Simkins-Hallain Lumber Co. and volunteer labor, so that the maximum number of people it can accommodate has increased from 18 to 24. In addition to cards and a few games for entertainment, it now has a small donated TV that can pick up a few local stations.

Kim Wattam, who worked at the Warming Center last winter during its inaugural season, has been hired as center coordinator. Two people also have been hired as lead workers.

In its first weekend, the Warming Center sheltered seven people.

The plan is to have at least two people on duty every night and to fill one slot with volunteers as much as possible to keep costs down, Gray said. Last winter, college students who volunteered at the shelter used the time to study.

The Greater Gallatin Homeless Action Coalition—a group of local nonprofits including HRDC, United Way, Family Promise and Salvation Army – launched the Warming Center last January for the first time.

It’s intended to offer homeless people a bare-bones place to stay that’s safe and warm, especially when cold weather hits, so that no one freezes to death in Bozeman. This is the only large city in Montana that doesn’t have a permanent homeless shelter.

The center serves no food. It is only open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Clients can go to the Salvation Army weekdays for free breakfasts.

The Warming Center opened for the first time last January. In the three months it was open, it served 70 individuals and offered 950 overnight stays. Local residents donated $39,000 to cover all operating costs.

To stay open for four months this winter, Wattam said the Warming Center will need to raise an estimated $52,000, less if volunteers work some of the nightly shifts. So far, the community has committed $17,000.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, groups of volunteers raised more than $2,000 by standing on street corners holding up signs, as some of the local homeless do. Wattam called it the “first annual flying signs fundraiser.”

Sixteen people, or 23 percent, managed to find both jobs and permanent housing after staying at the Warming Center.

What the Warming Center needs most right now is volunteers and donations, Gray said. Training for volunteers is held every Tuesday at 8 p.m.

In addition, the center could use more pillows and blankets, Wattam said.

Story Courtesy of Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Tara Skinner at Keller Williams Advantage Realty
Keller Williams Advantage Realty - Golden, CO
- Connect with us!

Having friends that lived in Bozeman, I know how cold it can get! This shelter is a wonderful idea. Let's hope you get as many volunteers as you need Jason. Good luck and thanks for the blog!

Dec 13, 2011 09:13 AM
Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate
Kelly Right Real Estate - Hood River, OR
Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs

This is a great service.  Locally in Hood River, a number of churches are coordinating a warming shelter program for the winter.  A great service for those in need.


Dec 13, 2011 09:17 AM
Jason Frey
PureWest, Inc. - Livingston, MT

Rick - Thanks for your comments.  Although we are known for winter sun and comparatively "mild" temperatures for the region, it gets cold here.  When the nights are single digits or below, these places are literally life savers.

Mel - That sounds like a great program as well.  Kudos to the members of your community for making a difference.

Dec 13, 2011 09:22 AM