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City of Denver lays out plan for cold weather shelters this winter

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Posted at 9:24 AM, Oct 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-12 11:24:06-04

DENVER — The City of Denver has determined its plan for sheltering people experiencing homelessness during the 2023-2024 winter.

The plan lays out that two hotels will be activated as cold weather shelters when a certain threshold is met.

The current system supporting people experiencing homelessness would have to reach capacity, and one of the below criteria would have to be met as well.

  • Overnight low temperatures would have to reach 20 degrees or colder.
  • There would need to be a windchill advisory, watch or warning in effect.
  • Or there would need to be 2 inches or more of snow in the forecast.

The two sites the City of Denver will use first, if the threshold is met, are the newly acquired Best Western Hotel near 44th Ave. and Quebec Street, and a second hotel the city is working on acquiring.
The city plans to put 100 beds inside of the Best Western's ballroom, and 300 beds would be placed inside the second hotel's ballroom for shelter.

If those places reach capacity, then the city has three secondary sites set up that will be used, including the McNichols Civic Center and Wellington E. Webb Municpal Buildings, and the Denver Coliseum.

200 beds would be placed inside the McNichols building for shelter from cold temperatures. There would also be 200 beds at the Webb building and 500 at the coliseum.

However, the city's plan details how using these three facilities could present issues, including problems with insurance and interruptions to city services and previously- scheduled events.

The coliseum has previously-scheduled events planned through most of December and into the new year.

Those sites also may be needed for Mayor Mike Johnston's 'House 1,000' plan at some point.

There is a third set of sites to be used- only if the previously mentioned ones are at full capacity, including recreation centers throughout the city. The city's plan says these sites would only be used for short-term emergencies during extreme weather events."

When it comes to who will staff these sites, the city has hired the company "Bayaud Enterprises" to staff shelters for up to 400 guests for 60 nights. And funding has already been allocated to carry out the city's plan.

The threshold that must be met before the city's plan goes into effect represents the average overnight winter low in Denver. It would "result in approximately half of the nights between December and March being in this threshold," which is about 60 nights, according to the city's plan.

City of Denver lays out plan for cold weather shelters this winter

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