Tempers Flare Over Plans for Warming Station at Revere Senior Center

As seniors pushed back against Revere's plans to open an overnight warming station for people in need at the Rosetti-Cowan Senior Center, City Councilor Marc Silvestri made a fiery plea for those endangered by the cold weather

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Emotions ran high at a Monday city council meeting in Revere, Massachusetts, as seniors questioned plans to open a floor of the senior center overnight to people seeking refuge from the cold weather.

The Rosetti-Cowan Senior Center is Revere's designated emergency facility. In the past, it has opened its doors during severe storms and when temperatures have dropped dangerously low.

But a plan to open the second floor overnight from Jan. 14 through March 31 for people who need to get out of the cold has drawn pushback.

"We care about the homeless, too, but we're hoping that they can have some other place where there are not vulnerable seniors," one woman said.

City Councilor Marc Silvestri became animated Wednesday as he expressed the need to help keep people safe from the cold.

"We're talking about people's lives here, and you know what? If I have to lose some votes to save some lives, then I will do so," he said at one point during the city council meeting.

Silvestri raised his voice at another time to highlight the grim reality homeless people face during extreme cold.

"People are going to die in the street, and if you are going to look at them in the face and say you're OK with that, then be so, but you know what? I'm not. I'm not OK with burying people because it's 15 degrees out."

Silvestri later apologized for shouting, but explained to NBC10 Boston that the issue is important to him because as an Army veteran, he fought his own battles after returning home from war.

"I was dependent on opioids for a few years, and in a very dark time in my life," he said. "I could have very easily been one of the people that need this warming center."

The warming center will offer space for up to 15 people between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. The city contracted "Housing Families" to operate it with security.

Revere Public Health Director Lauren Buck said the center will not have beds or food, assured it would be clean regularly, and explained that visitors and staff will be screened for COVID-19.

"We hear the concerns of the seniors, and we will do everything in our power to make sure that they're safe, as well as the people coming to use the warming center," Silvestri said.

In response to public feedback, the Revere City Council voted to explore alternative locations for the warming center, but Buck and Mayor Brian Arrigo said they had previously sought other options with little success.

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