Denver’s McNichols building overnight shelter will stay open through Friday morning. Rec centers will re-open Thursday

It’s too cold to sleep outside.
2 min. read
Someone carts a snow shovel across a frozen street in Mar Lee. Jan. 18, 2023.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

On Tuesday night, officials opened the McNichols building in Civic Center Park to make sure anyone who wants to sleep inside has somewhere to go. On Wednesday, the city announced that spot will stay open until 8 a.m. on Friday morning, at the earliest. There's a chance of more snow Friday night.

Derek Woodbury, spokesperson for Denver's Department of Housing Stability (HOST), said McNichols can hold more than 200 people, though less than 50 took the city up on that space Tuesday.

"We're definitely expecting more folks to sleep there tonight," he added.

The city opened similar shelters at the Coliseum and Webb Building during the deep freeze in December. Woodbury said a HOST outreach team that visits encampments to help people living outside, who may be shuffled around town by other city departments, stay informed of these as-needed shelters.

"That's exactly what we were doing yesterday and we're continuing to do now," he said. "Some of those folks at McNichols resulted from street outreach connections being made."

Woodbury also said officials across departments make joint decisions to open or extend these extra shelters; it's up to them to keep McNichols open longer if necessary.

Meanwhile, Woodbury said HOST is keeping an eye on capacity at regular shelters for people experiencing homelessness. He said "things are tight," but there's still room in those places, too.

Meanwhile, numbers of fatalities among people who live outside has climbed in the last year, some as a result of exposure to the elements.

Rec centers will re-open Thursday during normal hours as warming centers.

The city originally identified rec centers as being open Wednesday, but these were closed after the city announced most city buildings would be shut down due to the snow.

A list of rec centers and their hours can be found here.

The Central Park and Rude rec centers will not be open.

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