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How Public Libraries Have Become Spare Homeless Shelters (Hard Times USA)

As social safety nets shrink, libraries are more vital than ever as safe spaces for people with nowhere else to go.

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After two and a half years at the library, she knows many of the regulars, if only by sight. She has had her sights on two patrons who have thus far refused any assistance. One, an elderly woman, very politely declines any offers, though Lee knows she is homeless. “I’ll get to her, hopefully, one day,” she said. “But I can totally get why she just wants to spend some time here, too.”

Evelyn Nieves is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. She has been a reporter for both the New York Times and the Washington Post.