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Denver's temporary 24/7 cold weather shelter served hundreds experiencing homelessness

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Posted at 3:53 PM, Mar 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-07 19:30:48-05

DENVER — Hundreds of people experiencing homelessness stayed in Denver’s temporary 24/7 cold weather shelter located at the Denver Coliseum from February 9 until the shelter closed on February 17.

The shelter permitted guests to stay inside 24 hours a day.

“A lot of times, cold weather shelters end up telling people that they have to leave early in the morning, when it's still freezing,” V Reeves, Housekeys Action Network Denver (HAND) organizer said. “It was incredibly successful while it existed. It's a shame that it was as short as it was. It allowed for couples specifically to shelter together, which was a novel thing.”

Denver City Councilwoman Sarah Parady helped implement the pilot shelter.

“There were about 430 people, different people that took advantage of it during the eight days and nights that it was open and about over 200 people per night,” Parady said.

Parady said city leaders are still collecting data and conducting cost analysts for the shelter.

“So, I think part of what we were looking to find out was, 'will people use shelter when it's cold but warmer than 20?' Clearly, the answer to that is yes," she said. "But also, is it meaningful to people to be able to be in the same space throughout the period of a cold snap, instead of having to pack up and leave early in the morning? And I think, again, the fact that that many people were able to access the space, and with a couple 100 people every single night that it was activated, that appears to be, 'yes,'”

Parady said city leaders are exploring options for creating a permanent 24/7 cold weather shelter.

“I think everyone is absolutely hoping that we can make features of this permanent for next year,” Parady said. “There are factors to do with leaving the same space available as much as possible, which can be really hard with city buildings, because if they're not dedicated shelters, they often have other uses.“

Reeves and other HAND organizers helped people experiencing homelessness find other options when the 24/7 cold weather shelter closed. Reeves said they appreciated Parady and other city council members' willingness to explore shelter options.

“Parady has been a huge voice for the people on this front. She's definitely been advocating for these ‘under 32 degrees’ protections,” Reeves said. “We really need to hold the mayor accountable to what he said, in terms of being able to make up for cutting down programs, which would have opened warming centers regularly when temperatures were under 32 degrees.”

Reeves said HAND plans to advocate for the mayor to implement programs like the 24/7 cold weather shelter.

Denver's temporary 24/7 cold weather shelter served hundreds

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