For nine years Judy Vargas slept outside — along the Petaluma River, outside the Central Santa Rosa Library, on park benches in areas that stayed lit at night. Sometimes, there was space for her at Sam Jones Hall, Santa Rosa’s largest overnight shelter for homeless people.

But it wasn’t until Vargas found the Living Room, a Santa Rosa daytime drop-in center for homeless and at-risk women and children, that she started to seek a way out of homelessness.

“This place saved my life. It’s helping me get back on my feet,” said Vargas, 63. “When I was out there, I felt scared and alone and helpless.”