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Homeless Invited To Shelter In SF Church, Asked Not To Sleep On Hymnals

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People seeking shelter are asked not to use religious texts as pillows at St. Boniface Church in San Francisco. (KCBS)

People seeking shelter are asked not to use religious texts as pillows at St. Boniface Church in San Francisco. (KCBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— With cold temperatures and rain still in the Bay Area forecast, San Francisco homeless outreach is prioritizing shelter, and officials have asked non-profit charities to be ready to take in more homeless people this weekend.

Thursday night there were 51 vacant beds in San Francisco. If those beds get filled, non-profits are ready to offer more emergency shelter.

“The most important thing that we’re focused on is that our police and homeless outreach teams are going out and making sure that individuals are not experiencing hypothermia,” said Bevan Dufty, the city’s Director of Housing Opportunity.

Many are left cold once the sun rises, prompting the homeless to huddle in transit stations, but the Gubbio Project is offering day shelter in the Tenderloin from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Monday through Friday.

“Folks are allowed to come in and rest on the back two-thirds of the pews at St. Boniface Church,” said Laura Slattery, executive director with the Gubbio Project.

Light snoring can be heard in this dark, peaceful, warm place where all are welcome, as long as they don’t use the church’s religious texts as makeshift pillows.

“They have heat, bathrooms; the people that work there are really nice,” said a regular, Kevin Gavin.

St. Boniface is right across the street from St. Anthony’s Dining Hall and for many, it’s a “sanctuary, refuge and respite,” Slatter said. “People here oftentimes say, ‘here we can sleep with both eyes closed.’”

The homeless often don’t sleep soundly at night, feeling the need to protect themselves and their belongings.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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