It came just shy of a month ago. Local business owner PJ Simao, donating his - not currently in use - auto body shop in Watertown as a place where the local homeless population could get out of the cold and snow this winter.

Many had been setting up tents in a city pavilion.

It was a gift that some local city leaders - who have been working to find the homeless something more permanent - the type of facility the region doesn’t have - found incredibly special.

“Without this building, we wouldn’t have had a solution for the pavilion and those people would have been homeless and maybe in greater danger without this," Watertown City Councilor Cliff Olney said.

What You Need To Know

  • Jefferson County's temporary homeless shelter was thought to be closing Friday

  • A 12-hour, overnight, warming station at the Salvation Army is set to open

  • However, the county has decided to keep the shelter open for now as it continues to work on a permanent solution

In addition, Olney, a Watertown City Councilor, says Simao’s offer included some upgrades — including power, heat, lighting, bathrooms, showers and most importantly time.

It would be available to use the for the entire winter - even longer if needed and it comes at a time, the city - Olney says - lacks much needed affordable housing. As many as 34 people have been staying here at once.

“This right here offers them the bridge to get to that and a place where the workers from the county can come in and process paperwork and get them into permanent housing, offer them medical services an other things and also they have a place to eat and they have a safe, warm place to sleep at night," he added.

Now the one thing everyone can agree on, is this building - as is - is just not equipped to the be the permanent solution. And that’s why the county considered closing it as soon as other options became available, including a 12-hour, overnight, warming station at the Salvation Army set to open any day now.

But Olney has a question - will people actually use that station considering all the factors.

“What happens is, they would have to go to a Burger King or a Laundromat or someplace like that to stay warm for the next 12 hours until they can go back. They can’t take their personal belongings or any pets that they have and pets to them are like family,” he says.

Factors that have led the county to decide to keep the shelter open for the time being, as it continues to work on a more permanent solution.

A move Olney applauds, while offering to do what he can from his position with the city to find a permanent plan, and to put it in place as soon as possible - something he's been pushing for, hard - while also looking at the causes.

“This would be a game changer," he added.

Anything he says, that could provide stability for a situation that has been unstable for so many.

The warming station at the Salvation Army would be open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. The county says it hopes to have a plan in action in the very near future.