Homeless shelters crowded
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.