Burton Barr Library's closing shaking up Phoenix's homeless population

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It's not just book lovers displaced by the library's closing. Many of the city's homeless used the building to cool off and access resources during the daytime. Now they're looking for somewhere else to go. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) It's not just book lovers displaced by the library's closing. Many of the city's homeless used the building to cool off and access resources during the daytime. Now they're looking for somewhere else to go. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The helping hands of homeless advocates have been working overtime ever since the Burton Barr library closed after a broken pipe caused $1 million in damage, leaving the city's 1,500 homeless individuals with one less place to go. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The helping hands of homeless advocates have been working overtime ever since the Burton Barr library closed after a broken pipe caused $1 million in damage, leaving the city's 1,500 homeless individuals with one less place to go. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

It's not just book lovers displaced by the library's closing. Many of the city's homeless used the building to cool off and access resources during the daytime. Now they're looking for somewhere else to go.

The helping hands of homeless advocates have been working overtime ever since the Burton Barr library closed after a broken pipe caused $1 million in damage, leaving the city's 1,500 homeless individuals with one less place to go. 

"At least in the library, they could cool down for a couple hours, take a deep breath and enjoy the air conditioning. Well now they're just out here all day," said homeless advocate Michelle Patterson.

[RELATED: Water-damaged Phoenix library to stay closed until June]

Shawn Fontan, who's currently homeless, wanted to visit the library, but instead was greeted by a chain link fence that will stay up until June of next year. 

"It means that I have to find something else to do during the day," said Fontan.

Friday, that meant finding a spot in the shade at Phoenix Civic Space Park in the heart of downtown, to the surprise of some returning ASU students

"When I came down for orientation, me and my mom walked around a lot and I did not notice as many homeless people here as there are now," said ASU Freshman Melissa Krzak. "Which is kind of uncomforting."

[SLIDESHOW: Check out the damage and work underway]

[RAW VIDEO: City Manager Ed Zuercher's statement on Burton Barr Central Library damage-Aug. 18, 2017]

[RAW VIDEO: Tour of Burton Barr Library damage - Aug. 18, 2017 - Part 1]

Phoenix fire says they have recently seen an increase in calls to that park. Over the weekend, several people overdosed on spice here. But they're not saying it's related to the library's closing. 

"Since the library is closed you probably will see more homeless people migrating towards the city," said Patterson.

"I would say just be calm and cautious. You don't really know what's going to happen. I don't want to advise anybody to be too friendly but a simple smile could make a world of difference for these people." 

The City of Phoenix and the Salvation Amy are both looking at how they can try and reach all those people now that the library's closed till next year. 

[Click/tap here for information about the changes to library services]

[RAW VIDEO: Tour of Burton Barr Library damage - Aug. 18, 2017 - Part 2]

[RAW VIDEO: Tour of Burton Barr Library damage - Aug. 18, 2017 - Part 3]

[RAW VIDEO: Burton Barr Central Library briefing - Aug. 18, 2017]

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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

Click to learn more about Lauren.

Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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