Aurora’s new overnight shelter opens tonight, easing a regional homelessness crisis that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
A warehouse at 3293 Oakland Street in the Denver suburb was converted into the winter shelter that can accommodate 100 single adults. It will be managed by Mile High Behavioral Healthcare. Jeremy Stern, spokesman for Mile High Behavioral Healthcare, said that the shelter’s first guests will sleep there Tuesday and that the facility will be open every night until the end of April. People will be transported to the new shelter from Mile High Behavioral Healthcare’s Aurora Day Resource Center, a drop-in facility for people experiencing homelessness that is located on the Anschutz medical campus in Aurora.
Mile High Behavioral Healthcare also is allowing people experiencing homelessness to park about 20 vehicles and erect about 50 tents outside the shelter. The safe parking and camping area will not be monitored by shelter staff.
Mile High Behavioral Healthcare also runs the Comitis Crisis Center, which like Aurora Day Resource Center is on the Anschutz medical campus. Comitis has a long-term shelter for adults, transitional housing for families and military veterans and an emergency shelter for families. The Aurora Day Resource Center and Comitis will continue to serve as temporary emergency shelters during cold weather.
The need for social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 has meant Aurora’s cold weather shelters have had to decrease cots. Aurora officials say that with the new emergency shelter, the Aurora Day Resource Center, Comitis Crisis Center and motel vouchers, the city will be able to accommodate up to 450 people, the same number typically sheltered in Aurora during the winter before the pandemic.
Shelters in Denver also have had to reduce capacity to cope with COVID. Denver has leased a warehouse at 4600 East 48th Avenue that is expected to open as a 24-hour shelter to some guests by the end of this year and be at full capacity – about 400 people — in February.
Corrects that the Aurora shelter’s first night is Tuesday.