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Denver shelters prepare for crowds during cold front, snow

The Salvation Army is developing a plan to move people seeking shelter around the city to maintain social distancing protocols.

DENVER — With snow in Denver's forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday, members of the homeless population are expected to seek refuge from the cold in shelters. But since the pandemic began, those shelters have been operating at half-capacity. 

The Salvation Army runs a large shelter in Denver which can currently hold 250 people. As of Monday afternoon, they only had about 20 beds available. They're getting creative to make sure they don't have to turn anyone away.

"Our team has been hard at work all day," Major Mike Dickinson, The Salvation Army Intermountain Divisional Commander, said. "They've been very engaged throughout the day with both the city and county and with our partner agencies to make sure that the Salvation Army will do everything we can to help."

The group is partnering with other Denver shelters and some hotels to make sure everyone who comes to their doors has a warm place to stay.

"We will make sure those men are warm and in a secure location, they're safe and get them a little dinner and then they will be bused to an alternate shelter for the evening," Dickinson said. 

Dickinson said the city was considering opening up new temporary shelters in addition to using nine hotels in order to maintain social distancing. Those COVID-19 regulations are making it harder for The Salvation Army and its partners to plan for the influx of people. 

"Everything is enhanced with COVID-19," Dickinson said. "The way we respond to something like this is just made that much more difficult, because of the social distancing, because of the extra people that are needing help, because of the individuals and families that are really living on the edge, all of the little details that no one really thinks about, everything is enhanced during a time such as this." 

There are some positive changes from the pandemic, however. The Salvation Army shelter now operates 24/7, so it's easier for people to find the help they need at any time. In addition to a bed and three warm meals a day, they are also offering mental health and spiritual help. 

>> For a list of Denver's open shelters, click here.

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