NewsLocal News


Homeless advocacy group calls on Denver leaders to better prepare for winter weather

Mutual Aid Monday helping homeless residents on 19th and Grant
Posted at 3:34 PM, Mar 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-06 19:25:02-05

DENVER — A group of volunteers with Mutual Aid Monday dropped off some much-needed winter gear Sunday morning at a homeless camp ahead of forecasted below-freezing lows overnight this week.

"I don't care why they're out here. Doesn't matter to me. Doesn't matter to us. We just want to stop the suffering," volunteer Kelsang Virya said.

The camp, located at East 19th Avenue and North Grant Street, houses about a dozen people. Among the items the volunteers distributed were coats, blankets, food, water and candles.

"Terracotta pots really work well because they radiate out the heat, so that's really a good, good way to make heaters," Virya said.

For the group, this is the best it can do this time around.

"I hope this is our last cold spell, because people are getting worn down," Virya said.

During the stretch of below-freezing temperatures last month, Denver residents donated more than $20,000 to help house 75 people in hotels and buy winter gear, according to the group. But it's a responsibility Virya says they shouldn't have to take on.

"Where's the mayor? Where's the city council?" she asked Sunday.

In a letter to the city shared with Denver7 Saturday, the group criticized the city's decision to open warming centers halfway through the freezing spell in February and only during the day.

"At night, when people really need to get in and get warm, they didn't even have them open," Virya said.

It's a sentiment shared by District 9 Council Member Candi CdeBaca, who doubted those who needed the warming centers heard about them in time.

"I could tell you story after story. It's just ... I am at this point so frustrated," Virya said.

With temperatures expected to drop below 20-degrees overnight this week, she hopes city leaders are better prepared.

"We should not be living in a society that lets people freeze to death or get frostbite," Virya said.

Denver7 reached out to the city's Department of Housing Stability and Mayor Michael Hancock's office but has not yet received a response.