Denver homeless shelters are ready to take in more people amidst the snowstorm

Shelters are extending their hours and adding beds.
3 min. read
Outside the Denver Rescue Mission, April 12, 2019. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Shelters for experiencing homelessness in Denver are expecting high turnout Tuesday evening as the city is blanketed by a snowstorm.

Snowfall is supposed to continue into the evening, with temperatures expected to drop to single digits overnight. The city is under a Winter Storm Warning until Wednesday.

Denver Rescue Mission spokesperson Nicole Tschetter said in an email they're seeing an increase in people looking for shelter. Tschetter said the Mission can fit 1,000 people between its three shelters.

It had 792 people stay overnight on Monday --  quite a jump compared to the same day in 2018, when staff counted 647.

"We will see similar numbers tonight, if not higher," Tschetter said in the email. "People experiencing homelessness who don't typically utilize our shelters will come to us because it's just too cold to be outside."

Mike Sinnett, vice president of shelters at Samaritan House, said it's two shelters are usually at capacity every night. They were planning on opening their emergency women's shelter at 3 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The organization was providing coffee, hot chocolate and thermal socks for women staying at the shelter. It also provides a hot dinner and breakfast.

Sinnett said the women's shelter has space for 225 people. Samaritan House also operates an extended stay shelter with space for 126 men and 48 women. Sinnett said the shelter hasn't had to turn anyone away yet. It tries to accommodate most visitors.

"We weren't prepared for the weather to be this bad this early in the year, so that was a big surprise," Sinnett said. "We think we're ready."

Sinnett said the shelter always welcomes donations like blankets, coats, socks, gloves and stocking caps.

Urban Peak CEO Christina Carlson said they added 10 beds to their shelter, bringing their total to 50. The center serves young people experiencing homelessness ranging in age from 15 to 20.

"We are out on the street with the intention of getting people inside," Carlson said.

The shelter has received about $1 million to help build on its services. Carlson said the money will help expand the hours for its drop-in center, which will mean more meals for people and more time to help find services for young people.

The Delores Project, a women's shelter, is extending its hours to let guests stay there all day instead of having to leave by morning, said CEO Stephanie Miller. Guests usually need to be out of the building by 8 a.m. before returning at 5 p.m.

The shelter is at full capacity, which Miller said is pretty standard and not due to the weather. She said they're adding cots to increase their bed total from 60 to 66.

Denver's Human Services office has a page with cold-weather resources for people experiencing homelessness.

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