DENVER (CBS4) – Storms across the Denver metro area this week mean dangerously cold temperatures for those living on the streets. Volunteers are working to bring as many people in from the cold as they can.
On Tuesday, the Severe Weather Shelter Network opened three overnight shelters for the homeless. Its shelters open when temperatures are life-threatening.
“For people living on the streets, there is nowhere safe for them to be and temperatures are certainly life-threatening,” explained Lynn Ann Huizingh, a spokeswoman for the Severe Weather Shelter Network.
This year they have helped to provide shelter to 495 people so far this winter season, which is an increase from last year. Huizingh said on Tuesday, the Arvada and Lakewood shelters were near capacity.
“I’ve watched registrations escalate today and people realize, ‘yup, I need to be inside,’” she explained. “I’m not going to find somewhere safe to be tonight.”
Huizingh told CBS4 the SWSN provides the only overnight shelters for the homeless in Jefferson County and west Arapaho County. That means oftentimes, police will call them to drop off homeless individuals they find overnight, to keep them safe.
“That happens a lot,” Huizingh said. “When we’re close to capacity we try to help as many people as we can.”
Those seeking overnight shelter will meet at a “warming shelter” in the late afternoon.
Eric Perez was at the Giving Heart in Englewood on Tuesday. He had stayed at a SWSN the night before.
“To stay inside, man, you got to thank God,” Perez said. “You can’t give up.”
SWSN is still looking for volunteers for positions: overnight leads, and morning drivers.
CBS4 and Denver Rescue Mission are joining forces to help Spread the Warmth this winter.