NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A downtown soup kitchen in New Haven is helping people in the city stay warm through the dangerously cold conditions this season.

One guest at the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen, Terrence Peterson, is learning what it’s like to live without a home, let alone in freezing weather.

“You feel it, it’s very, very hard, very hard to be out there, can’t be out there no longer than five minutes,” Peterson said.

Peterson got into this situation at the start of the year, having never been in it before.

“You don’t want to be there, and you don’t wish that upon your worst enemy,” Peterson said.

It didn’t take Peterson long before he found out about the downtown evening soup kitchen’s new drop-in ceter, off State Street in New Haven.

Downtown Soup Kitchen Executive Director Steve Werlin called it an “essential service” that was “somewhat lacking in the city.”

Werlin said that though they opened the spot in the spring, this is their first winter and they’re just getting to utilize the space as a 24/7 warming center – something the city hasn’t had since the start of the pandemic. Anyone is welcome, and food, Wi-Fi, and restrooms are provided, as well as connections to resources like case managers and healthcare workers.

“The whole idea is to get people connected to the whole network of social services that can move them beyond homelessnes,” Werlin said.

While those in need can stay overnight, Werlin wanted to make it clear that they’re not a shelter, and they don’t have beds or rooms to set up cots. He noted that at night, they turn the lights down in order to make it “as conducive as possible for people to just put their heads down on the tables and rest and relax.”

“It’s helping me,” Peterson said, “it’s saving me to see another day.”

The center can now take in 25 people, and if they reach capacity, they’ll refer them to the warming center in Hamden.