A rec center is being used as a warming center for the homeless during Thursday’s late winter snow storm

La Alma Recreation Center is open even though rec centers across the city are closed.

People hunker down in tents on a cold morning in Five Points as shelters brace for the possibility of COVID-19 infections in their facilities. March 19, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

People hunker down in tents on a cold morning in Five Points as shelters brace for the possibility of COVID-19 infections in their facilities. March 19, 2020. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

Donna Bryson. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

As snow fell in Denver Thursday, the city opened La Alma Recreation Center so that people experiencing homelessness would have a place to keep warm during the day.

Britta Fisher, head of the city’s housing department, said at a news conference that the rec center, at 1325 W 11th Ave. in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, opened as a warming center at 11 a.m. and would close at 6 p.m. Thursday and be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Friday. Rec centers across the city are closed for normal operations in an attempt to decrease encounters between people to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

Fisher added that St. Francis Center’s day shelter, at 2323 Curtis St. in Five Points, had opened overflow space Thursday.

In addition to its existing overnight shelter network, the city was opening Holly Center at 5725 East 39th Ave. to handle any overflow Thursday night, Nancy Kuhn, a city spokeswoman, added in an email. The Denver Rescue Mission had closed Holly Center and consolidated some 900 beds from three shelters into two facilities, in part because some staff members and volunteers have been unable to work because they are considered at higher risk of falling ill if they contract the coronavirus.

Kuhn said the Denver Rescue Mission and Salvation Army would work together to staff Holly Center Thursday night.

The National Weather service has predicted a low of around 21, wind gusts as high as 24 mph and one to two inches of snow accumulating Thursday night. Friday’s forecast includes up to another half inch of snow, mainly falling after noon, and a high near 35.

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