DENVER (CBS4) – Members of the Salvation Army are doing sweeps of Denver streets this week in an effort to get homeless people into shelters.
The goal is to prevent anyone from getting health problems or possibly freezing to death in the extremely cold conditions.
The Salvation Army estimates more than 10,000 homeless people live in the Denver metro area.
Joey Guynn works for the Salvation Army’s search and rescue division. He is part of the group that patrols the city looking to get the homeless inside every night.
Guynn says there’s enough room at shelters in his sector of Denver for everyone to spend the night inside, but many refuse the help.
“We have to convince them how important it is that they let us help them. If they just let us help them, the help is there,” Guynn said.
Guynn found Sarah Hamilton at a Burger King. She was in the cold and snow all day on Wednesday, but a call to the Salvation Army made sure she would be inside overnight. Before that, Hamilton might have spent the night in outdoors.
“It would probably not be very good,” Hamilton told CBS4. “I’d have been close to freezing.”
Guynn picked Hamilton up, took her to a shelter and gave her a voucher that will allow her to stay in a motel room until the storm passes.
“These sorts of nights don’t happen a lot but when we get cold snaps like this it’s very dangerous,” Guynn said.
Guynn talked to one couple who covered themselves with blankets on a sidewalk and tried to convince them to come inside. They refused.
“It’s really important to us that we really try to help these people and do everything we can,” Guynn said.
Guynn says if necessary the shelters will open up hallways and lobbies — any available space — to get people off the street.
CBS4 newscasters will be ringing bells for the Salvation Army on the 16th Street Mall on Wednesday, Dec. 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.