Editor's note: The Denver Coliseum will now act as a 24/7 severe weather shelter through 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17.
DENVER — The City of Denver opened the Denver Coliseum as a 24/7 severe weather shelter Friday afternoon, allowing those experiencing homelessness to escape the cold and snow for an extended period of time.
The Coliseum, located at 4600 N Humboldt Street, will remain open until 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 16.
People in need can go directly to the Coliseum. The city said this shelter is best suited for individuals, not families.
The Denver Coliseum is pet-friendly. Denver Animal Control is providing kennels for those who bring their pets with them.
Denver weather forecast snow totals: The newest update for the weekend storm
John Rohlfs has battled frostbite before and knows it doesn't take long to be at risk.
"It's a constant burning. And it's been burning for about a month now," he explained.
Rohlfs said he plans on staying at the Denver Coliseum until it closes.
Mayor Mike Johnston and the Denver City Council are testing the site as a potential cold weather shelter for next winter. Colorado Coalition for the Homeless spokesperson Cathy Alderman said the Coliseum could help solve a space issue seen across many of the city's shelters.
"The problem is that many of those shelters, especially during cold weather events, are at capacity. So we have to open up these overflow sites," said Alderman.
Best known for hosting the National Western Stock Show and other sporting events, the Denver Coliseum was previously used as an emergency shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
When she was formerly unhoused, Ana-Lilith Miller stayed at the neighboring National Western Complex. Now as an outreach worker for Housekeys Action Network Denver, she's worried such a large venue could present safety concerns.
"Is this staff going to have the training that they're going to need, like de-escalation training, harm reduction training?" asked Miller.
While the city said the walk-up site isn't suitable for families, it offers an around-the-clock space for individuals who need it. Miller hopes those who need it take advantage of the space as the snow starts to fall.
"I urge anyone who is on the streets that is cold and in need of shelter, please go," said Miller.
There are other shelter options as cold weather settles into the state.
Families who need shelter should contact The Salvation Army Connection Center at 303-295-3366, where they can receive a hotel voucher.
Individuals in need of shelter can also go to "front door" shelter access points, which offer walk-up access, longer hours and can help people navigate what shelter facility is best for their situation. The front door locations include:
- For individual men – Lawrence Street Community Center, 2222 Lawrence St.
- For individual women – Samaritan House, 2301 Lawrence St.
- For youth ages 15-20 – Urban Peak, 2100 Stout St.