DENVER — Denver's recreation centers were supposed to open Wednesday as warming shelters. The city made the announcement in a press release on Tuesday afternoon saying the doors would be open during regular business hours for people who need a place to warm up. The same thing was mentioned in a late-night tweet by the city on Tuesday.
Then the recreation centers that were supposed to open on Wednesday due to inclement weather were closed due to inclement weather.
According to Derek Woodbury, communications director for the city's Department of Housing Stability, the City and County of Denver's Twitter channel incorrectly stated that recreation centers would be open on Wednesday.
That mistake was corrected on Wednesday morning. The new tweet announced recreation centers would be closed.
Denver city government closed to the public on Wednesday because of weather conditions and only 24-hour city services, like emergency shelters, maintained regular operating schedules.
"To close them due to weather, there's some problems with that in planning, insight and just compassion for people," said Benjamin Dunning, an organizer with Denver Homeless Out Loud.
People experiencing homelessness come to these places to get out of the cold. Dunning's concerned the city changed those plans without much notice.
"So when they show up and that is no longer the case because somebody made a last minute change, they are stuck," Dunning said. "Information moves slow out in the homeless community. When you are changing where the warming shelters are and what the requirements are - people don't get the word."
The city's shelter system remained open which included a 24/7 center at the McNichols Civic Center Building on Colfax. McNichols will stay as a warming center until 8 a.m. Friday.
Recreation centers will open during normal business hours on Thursday. Each center will be staffed with access to drinking water, restrooms, and a place to sit.
The city said outreach workers had been redirecting people to other indoor options on Wednesday, and there had been adequate space in the city's shelter system.
Dunning wished there were more options on Wednesday for people to stay warm.
"Part of the reason there are so many tents out in the city is because people don't want to go into a crowded emergency shelter," he said. "All of this goes away when we house our own. We have got decades of choosing not to do it."
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