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Coliseum's 24-hour warming shelter reaches capacity, 2 shelters still accepting people

The Coliseum's temporary shelter prepared for 225 people, yet housed 354 people Wednesday overnight – two other warming centers offer shelter from cold temps.

DENVER — The Denver Coliseum, one of three warming centers opened by the city and county of Denver for people to escape the extreme cold, has reached capacity – however, two other warming centers are still accepting people.  

For Thursday night, people can seek shelter at the Downtown Denver YMCA at 25 W. 16th Ave. which has space for 100 people. The city said that guests are being moved from the Coliseum to the YMCA to alleviate overcrowding. 

The Wellington Webb Building at 201 W. Colfax Ave. also has space for 100 people. Blankets and chairs are available, but no cots. The city said guests will have to pass through a security screening before entering. 

Denver residents, those experiencing homelessness and recent migrants are using the warming centers. 

The city said that service animals are welcome at all warming centers. People who have pets that are not service animals should seek shelter at the Coliseum or the YMCA centers to house their pets through the Colorado State University Spur Center. 

There are shuttles running from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. from the St. Francis Center and the Lawrence Street Community Center for people trying to get to the warming centers. 

Denver recreation centers and libraries are also open during normal operating hours for people looking for a place to stay warm during the day.

Every winter, there are people experiencing homelessness who die from exposure to extreme temperatures. On Wednesday, Denver city and county officials said they want to make sure everyone needing somewhere to go, has a warm place to stay. 

"It's tough. It's cold," said Avionne Patterson, who has been unhoused for a year now. 

He knew his typical way of staying warm while sleeping outdoors wasn't going to be enough for Wednesday night's severe cold temperatures. 

"I've been in situations where I almost froze to death in the cold," Patterson said. "I try to just put on as much clothes as I can, three pairs of pants, three shirts and jacket or coat."

He got to the Coliseum early on Wednesday, along with other unhoused people, waiting for a bed. 

"This facility will be available to anyone who needs it, including our neighbors experiencing homelessness, the migrants who have recently arrived in our city and anyone from the general public who needs a safe place to be warm," Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said.

Denver officials said if they run out of beds they will work with community partners to accommodate the overflow. 

"The Department of Housing Stability's outreach team and our partners have three dozen staff members working extended hours through 9 p.m. daily putting all their effort to getting people inside, safe from this incoming storm so we can save lives," said Britta Fisher, chief housing officer for the Denver Department of Housing Stability (HOST). 

The National Guard and Red Cross will assist people at the Coliseum, handing out hygiene kits and food. 

The Coliseum is only a temporary shelter and will stay open until at least Saturday morning. 

"We have a strong sheltering system here in Denver and we always stand ready to meet the needs of our community of unhoused residents," Fisher said. 

Denver is not the only city in the metro area taking steps to keep people safe during the frigid weather. 

Through Saturday, hoping to get as many people as possible inside, the city of Boulder is turning the East Boulder Community Center into a warming center and also expanding the capacity of its homeless shelter.

"We're really concerned about folks sleeping outside, obviously. This is a life-threatening storm, so we want to make sure that everybody is aware of the resources and that everybody is safe inside over the next couple of nights," city spokeswoman Lyndsy Morse-Casillas said.



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