St. Anthony's Dining Hall opens emergency shelter for SF's homeless

As the wet El Niño storm systems soak the Bay Area, there is concern for making sure there is a warm and dry place to sleep for those who don't have a home.

St. Anthony's put mats down on every bit of floor space Thursday night, just trying to get people out of the rain. About an hour after they opened their doors, all the spots were taken.

It was the third time in a week that St. Anthony's turned their dining room lobby into an emergency shelter.

"We've been full every night," said Charles Sommers, the St. Anthony's Director of Programming.

"About 10% have been seniors. We've had a few families, last night we had a mother and her son," Sommers said.

More than 6,600 people are living on the streets and in shelters according to San Francisco's 2015 homeless count.

"I been homeless for 16 years, ever since my wife died," said Marquee Cumbertson, who had a tent and a tarp set up along Bryant Street, ready for the rainstorms. He also pulled out a jacket for himself and one for his 18 month old German Shepherd service dog.

"I'm just going to camp out because a lot of the shelters they don't take dogs."

Those who got a bed at St. Anthony's Thursday night are among the lucky ones.

"It is good to be inside a shelter if the weather's bad," said Edred Patterson of San Francisco, "You know most of the time you can't get in those shelters."

Looming large is the question of what to do with many more months of winter ahead.

"I think it's important we have a compassionate response and a necessary response.to provide shelter for folks that need it," Sommers said.

St. Anthony's says it takes about $1,000 to keep this shelter open each night.

They plan to reopen for the next round of storms Sunday.

The city's homeless outreach team says two other shelters on Folsom and 6th and at the Mission Recreation Center also opened Thursday.

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