Home­less shel­ters crowded

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Jen­nifer Brown

Home­less shel­ters in down­town Den­ver were crowded and hun­dreds of peo­ple were bused to an emer­gency shel­ter north­east of the city Satur­day as bit­ter-cold tem­per­a­tures made it un­safe to stay out­side.

At the Sa­mar­i­tan House, a 350-bed shel­ter run by Catholic Char­i­ties, more than 70 peo­ple spent Fri­day night in an over­flow area and 140 women were bused from down­town to the emer­gency shel­ter near In­ter­state 70 and Peo­ria Street in Aurora, spokes­woman Re­becca Kessler said.

The Den­ver Res­cue Mis­sion housed 294 peo­ple Fri­day night at its shel­ter down­town, set­ting up mats in the build­ing’s other rooms af­ter the dorm room was full. The mis­sion also sent dozens of peo­ple by bus to the emer­gency shel­ter. Com­bined, 654 were aided by the mis­sion Fri­day, the largest num­ber so far this sea­son and up by 100 peo­ple from Thurs­day night when tem­per­a­tures were not nearly as cold.

At the nearby Lawrence Street Com­mu­nity Cen­ter, 800 peo­ple had come in from the cold through­out the day Satur­day. A typ­i­cal win­ter day brings 200 to 300 peo­ple, said Alexxa Gag­ner, spokes­woman for the mis­sion. Shel­ters that nor­mally close dur­ing day­time hours were al­low­ing peo­ple to stay in­side Satur­day.

“It def­i­nitely is a se­ri­ous thing when the weather drops this cold,” she said. “We want to en­cour­age peo­ple to be in­side and safe.”

Shel­ter work­ers were pre­par­ing for even more peo­ple Satur­day night. Shel­ters also were ask­ing for do­na­tions of win­ter gear, es­pe­cially hand warm­ers, plus­sized sweaters and coats, snow boots and gloves. A new web­site launched by the Sa­mar­i­tan House al­lows peo­ple to buy blan­kets and win­ter gear with a few clicks. The shel­ter’s wish list con­nects di­rectly to Ama­zon for quick shop­ping, or peo­ple can do­nate money via an on­line link.

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