DENVER — The closure of the 300-bed shelter at the Denver Coliseum comes at a time when the shelter has been running at nearly full capacity. People who have called the Coliseum home tell Denver7 they’re anxious for what’s to come.
"I don’t have any idea what I am going to do," said Robert Green.
"I hope they move us somewhere, some place that is comfortable like this," said Michael Hofmann.
Come Dec. 3, the Coliseum, which opened its doors as an emergency shelter at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, will be shutting down services so preparations for the upcoming National Western Stock Show can begin.
"The setup of a facility for the stock show is certainly an important task, but most critically, is our ability to help folks who have been counting on this shelter as their safe place to be," said Deputy Director of the Housing Stability and Homeless Resolution for City of Denver, Angie Nelson.
The task at hand means relocating hundreds of people in a short amount of time. The Department of Housing Stability says there’s enough space to make it happen.
"Currently across the entire shelter system, the beds that we have available with occupancy for men, we currently have enough space across the shelter system to accommodate the number of folks coming from the Coliseum," said Nelson.
Options may include motel rooms for people over 65 who have medical conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. The city is also looking into long-term housing and other shelters.
"Moving is hard even when where you're moving from as is, is a COVID emergency response shelter to another shelter. The place where you've been that's been able to offer you some stability can feel a little bit like home, it's your home base for a while," said Nelson.
The stock show was canceled last year due to the pandemic but will return in early January 2022. For now, the biggest worry for many who used to call the Coliseum home is, where next?
"This is a good place to stay, it is protected, it is good for everyone here," said Hofmann.
The City of Denver's Department of Housing Stability, also known as HOST, has seen some success in placing vulnerable residents in stable housing. Mayor Michael Hancock and HOST launched an effort Sept. 2 to get 200 people experiencing homelessness housed in 100 days. So far, they've exceeded their goal by housing 256 people in 68 days.