Huffpost Impact

How Public Libraries Have Become Spare Homeless Shelters

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Libraries across the country are are hiring nurses, social workers and other outreach workers to help the growing number of homeless people who seek refuge at libraries. | Alamy

Not everyone who spends all day, every day in the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library is down and out. Only mostly everyone.

Kathleen Lee knows this because she spends hours a day walking the six floors of the vast, sky-lit building, looking for patrons who might need real help. They are everywhere: in the carrels, amid the stacks, on the computers. Some wear all they own on their backs and all they’ve lived through on their faces. Others hide in plain sight. Lee knows this, too, since she was homeless a few years ago. So she tries to let everyone know who she is and what she does.

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