Photo courtesy of a recently released report, conducted in part by the local agency "The Learning Web," that tracked homeless youth in the Ithaca area.
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ITHACA, N.Y. — Those experiencing homelessness have a safe place a place to come in from the cold 24 hours a day, thanks to a warming station now offered by the Ithaca Rescue Mission.

Even if the Rescue Mission’s emergency shelter is at capacity, or if someone comes in after the regular admittance hours, staff will ensure that individuals have a safe place to pass the night.

The Ithaca Rescue Mission warming station, introduced on Jan. 5, is open 4 pm to 9 am on nights that reach 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below. The station is within the Rescue Mission’s headquarters at 618 West State Street. The Friendship Center, a day center where individuals can connect with case management, a community food pantry and other services, is open from 9 am to 4 pm at the same location.

Photo courtesy of a recently released report, conducted in part by the local agency “The Learning Web,” that tracked homeless youth in the Ithaca area.

“We are delighted to be able to offer round-the-clock entry and shelter during cold winter weather,” said Richard Bennett, Director of the Ithaca Rescue Mission.

The center was initiated as a result of Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order to bring individuals out of the cold in freezing temperatures. As a result, Tompkins County Department of Social Services and the Rescue Mission devised a plan to open the warming station and offer any vacant shelter beds after hours.

If beds are filled, individuals can at least come in to a warm living area to pass the night.

“Tompkins County DSS and the Rescue Mission wanted to act quickly on Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order,” said Richard Bennett, Director of the Ithaca Rescue Mission. “We agree with his stance that no one should have to be exposed overnight to freezing weather.”

“Ideally we would like everyone experiencing homelessness to have a bed and, ultimately, permanent housing. Even if we can’t do that right away, the warming station at least provides a safe place to come in from the cold,” he said.

For those experiencing homelessness, the warming station can also be an entry point to other services, such as case management, assistance with finding housing, and referrals to other community services, Bennett said.

Already, those connections are happening, he noted: “Just in January, we had two chronically homeless adults who sought safety from the cold in the warming station. Our case managers worked with them and were able to find them permanent housing.”

The Ithaca Rescue Mission provides a 20-bed emergency shelter, 25 units of supportive housing, a Friendship Center and community food pantry. The Rescue Mission strives to share hope, end homelessness and hunger, change lives and strengthen communities one person at a time.

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.