A look inside the Lawrence Community Center

Posted at 12:38 AM, Jan 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-15 18:50:30-05

After opposition before it even opened, the daytime center to assist the homeless in downtown Denver has now been open nearly two months. So is it working?

The Denver Rescue Mission has provided services to the homeless downtown for over a century. The Lawrence Street Community Center? Almost two months. But after a court fight just to open its doors, the courtyard there is full.

"About a month-and-a-half in, we're seeing average daily numbers around 800 people," Alexa Gagner, of the Denver Rescue Mission, said.

The new facility gives the homeless a place to stay during the day, as well as a new place to eat that seats up to 300 people. It also contains a new kitchen to serve them, which is already seeing a spike in numbers.

"It's about 65 percent more than we saw a year ago. Our typical average next door was 1,000 and now we've surpassed that," Gagner said.

The Ballpark Neighborhood Association, where the center is located, originally opposed its construction and even sued to keep it closed. A release from the group from last year reads "concentrating social services in one neighborhood is not beneficial."

But with numbers up at the center, and less people on the sidewalk outside, the Rescue Mission is claiming success.

"We've heard from the police department seeing some success with people coming here. We do feel like we are making an impact already," Gagner added.

The Denver Rescue Mission next door houses homeless men overnight, with an emergency shelter opened during the winter months as well.

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