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City of Denver opens emergency shelters Sunday in response to first winter storm

Around 400 people get a warm place to stay between the Denver Coliseum and the old Best Western hotel on Quebec Street
Posted at 10:45 AM, Oct 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-01 21:48:45-04

DENVER — Hours before the emergency shelter at the Denver Coliseum opened Sunday, people were out waiting in the cold.

"I have to walk and there's no warming stations anywhere close to here. I'm just kind of hanging out all day long," Doug, who stayed at the shelter on Saturday night, said.

It was the first time Denver has opened emergency overnight shelters so far this season.

"It was very nice that they had pads that you could sleep on, plenty of bottled water. They gave you a meal when you first come in," Doug explained.

Between the shelter at the coliseum and the ballroom at the old Best Western hotel on Quebec Street, 400 people could get out of the cold. They did not reach capacity on Saturday night.

"We had beds available [on Saturday.] Our staff feels competent that we have enough capacity [Sunday] to serve folks in need," Derek Woodbury with the Denver Department of Housing Stability said.

The emergency shelters were open 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., with Monday being the last day they're open.

"With the forecast, we saw that three nights is what we needed to do initially. Bottom line, we're always keeping an eye on weather conditions on capacity in order to serve folks in need," Woodbury said.

More than 150 migrants arrived in Denver this weekend, also in need of shelter.

For migrants already temporarily housed, rules were changed because of the winter weather.

"We have a usual discharge process 14 days for individuals, 37 days for families. During the cold weather while that plan is activated, no discharges. So we weren't discharging anyone over that three day period," Jon Ewing with Denver Human Services said. "If you've timed out of that you needed a place to stay, go to the coliseum or the Best Western and take advantage of that."

The city acknowledges there will be an overlap in need but for right now, there is room for anyone needing a warm place to stay the night.

"We're always going to find that space. We're going to. I don't want to sugarcoat it, resources are strained, it is difficult, but we'll make it happen," Ewing said.

City of Denver opens emergency shelters Sunday in response to first winter storm

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