Downtown Daily Bread in Harrisburg opens overnight shelter until March 31st; needs donations and volunteers

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- More than 450 homeless people live in the city of Harrisburg.

As it gets colder outside, one shelter wants to make sure those people have a safe and warm place to stay.

There is room for about 35 men to stay over night at Downtown Daily Bread.

Other shelters in the city have changed policy, including Bethesda Mission, limiting their overnight numbers and focusing on long term rehabilitation.

As a result, Downtown Daily Bread decided to expand its overnight service and has been busy for months preparing for the first night.

Blankets prepped and cots ready.

"We have never had people here at night before," said Anne Guenin, the director.

Downtown Daily Bread in Harrisburg primarily used to be just an emergency kitchen, serving nearly 100 people in need meals each day.

"Our biggest need right now is donations, monetary donations," said Guenin.

The shelter now needs donations to pay for additional employees and utilities necessary to care for people in need.

"We have clients who have been coming here for more than ten years. No matter what you do for people, we have found it's hard to move them from where they are," she said.

The shelter is a short term fix to a long-term issue in the city: homelessness.

"We need to have a better solution to the problem and more long-term solutions so I hope that this goes well, but I also hope that we can find a solution as a city and as a community to address the problem," she stated.

About 30 men can stay overnight at the shelter. Doors open each night at 7:30 p.m.

"What this does is get people off the streets and out of severe weather, and that can only be a good thing," Guenin explained.

Now, the shelter relies on paid employees and volunteers. Officials say they need donations to keep up with the expanded service and will take volunteers in a few weeks. The shelter will be open until March 31st.