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Denver Encouraging People Experiencing Homelessness to Seek Shelter Ahead of Cold Weather Front

Supportive services, additional resources remain available as temperatures drop

DENVER – With winter weather moving in, the City and County of Denver and its partners are encouraging people experiencing homelessness to seek shelter rather than trying to brave the elements outdoors. Denver has nearly 2,000 shelter spaces available each night and the ability to leverage the city’s Recreation Centers to serve more in an emergency. On average, 100 to 150 shelter spaces go unused each night.

“As the weather gets colder, it’s critical everyone has a safe, warm place to spend the night,” said Chris Connor, Director, Denver’s Road Home. “We firmly believe people experiencing homelessness are best served indoors, through our network of nonprofit shelter providers, where they can access safe sleeping areas, basic needs support and resources to help them end their episode of homelessness. Our goal is to prevent homelessness when possible and for any experience with homelessness to be brief and nonrecurring.”

Denver contracts with several nonprofit partners to conduct street outreach 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Teams connect people staying outside in Denver to supportive services, jobs, shelter and housing. Outreach teams provide counsel, case management and access to resources including: housing, medical insurance; health care; mental and behavioral health services; vital documents; transportation; job placement and training; daily living items like socks; underwear and hygiene items. A specialized outreach team also works with youth experiencing homelessness to serve their unique needs.

Mental health co-responders similarly work alongside police to provide on-the-spot mental and behavioral health support to residents.

“Cold weather conditions can be especially dangerous for people with behavioral health conditions and those who have compromised immune systems and are more susceptible to illness and the effects of exposure,” said Bob McDonald, Executive Director of the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment and the City’s Public Health Administrator. “We continue to be concerned about people living outdoors exposed to the elements – particularly with more cold, wet weather on the way this week.”

Denver’s multiple shelters are open to men, women, people who identify as transgender, and families. All are operated by a network of nonprofit providers. In addition to shelter, Denver residents experiencing homelessness can access basic needs such as food, medical help, assistance benefits, and counseling through the city’s network of partners. More information, including hours, locations, and type of service offered, is available through our Denver Shelters and Services Resource Guide. A robust list of resource providers in Denver County is available here.

The city works with providers to house, shelter and support people experiencing homelessness in Denver year-round, and invested roughly $60 million in 2017 on various programs and community efforts to prevent homelessness and support the needs of people experiencing homelessness, including $2.9 million annually to support emergency shelter services. With these investments, Denver and its partners have ended homelessness for more than 6,300 families and individuals over the last seven years.