HRDC building

The HRDC building in downtown Bozeman on July 6, 2016.

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With winter’s arrival, the Human Resource Development Council is opening its emergency shelter earlier than planned.

HRDC announced Monday that it's opening its Bozeman overnight warming center for the season — five days sooner than planned.

The announcement arrived as a snowstorm clouded town, bringing a high of 26 degrees and a low of 5 degrees below zero for the day.

“Unfortunately, Montana’s winter weather doesn’t abide by our Warming Center season, and neither does a neighbor’s housing crisis,” said Shari Eslinger, HRDC’s housing director.

HRDC spokesperson Jenna Roads said this is the earliest the nonprofit has opened its winter shelter, which typically houses people from Nov. 1 through the end of March. The shelter also opened two nights this month when temperatures dropped below the area’s fall norm.

How far into March the shelter remain open will depend on weather and money.

Eslinger said it’s already challenging to open each season and setting up five days early will be a financial hit.

“We are dedicated to providing a place for our neighbors to rest, stay dry, be warm and survive cold weather while they get back on their feet,” she said. “We have five more months of this kind of weather and though we are committed to staying open as long as we can, weather and funding may not cooperate with our plans.”

The warming center is at 2104 Industrial Dr., and opens each night from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. For now, everyone will stay at the Industrial Drive location until another spot is ready for women and families.

HRDC recently bought a home in south Bozeman to house women and families without a place to sleep, but neighbors have pushed back against that idea.

Last winter, the nonprofit took in 263 people at the shelter. Many warming center guests stay temporarily, with an average stay of 26 nights out of a five-month season.

The nonprofit is working toward building Bozeman’s first year-round shelter, which HRDC staff have said they hope to open by 2021.

HRDC worked with Greater Gallatin Homeless Action Coalition to open its Warming Center in 2009 after a man experiencing homelessness died from exposure.

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