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Denver nonprofits, city officials rush to get unhoused into shelter ahead of snowstorm

Elitch Encampment
Posted at 7:22 PM, Mar 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-13 21:22:14-04

DENVER — As Colorado prepares for one of the biggest snow storms in three years, Denver nonprofits and city officials are rushing to move those experiencing homelessness into shelter.

Outreach workers with Denver Dream Center were at an encampment near Elitch Gardens on Wednesday, offering shelter to dozens of families from Central and South America who have been living in tents.

Many of the encampment residents said they ended up on the streets after their shelter time expired.

"We were able to help out a few already, put them in hotels. But a lot of them, they don't really want to go," said Jose Orozco with Denver Dream Center. "To me, they don't understand the severity. So we're trying to get the kids out of here."

Roughly 50 people, including at least five children, were still living in tents at the encampment when Denver7 visited on Wednesday.

Martha Perdomo, who immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia, said she's been living in a tent with her 14-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son for the past two weeks. Perdomo said she was offered shelter for the next couple of days.

“We know we’re leaving today, we don’t know what time," Perdomo told Denver7 in Spanish, "I don’t want to be here with my kids. I want stability."

Denver Human Services spokesperson Jon Ewing said everyone at the encampment at Elitch Gardens was offered shelter. He said buses will arrive Wednesday evening to transport people to city shelters.

Nonprofits including ViVe Wellness and Papagayo will help families with children get into hotel rooms so they don't have to be in congregate shelters, according to Ewing.

Denver's Department of Housing Stability provided the following statement:

"This snowstorm poses a serious danger for people who are unsheltered, and we’re strongly encouraging people to come inside. Street outreach teams are deployed across the city, warning people of the approaching storm and presenting information on extra shelter options that Denver has deployed together with services partners. As with past severe weather shelter activations, we anticipate that we will be transporting many people to safety indoors."

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