By Libby Smith

DENVER (CBS4) – As temperatures drop into the single digits at night, those living outside will be at great risk. Cold temperatures are dangerous, and people experiencing homelessness have a high rate of frostbite injuries.

As part of its coronavirus response, the Denver Rescue Mission moved to 24/7 sheltering, allowing those without homes to come in out of the cold.

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“The reality is we went into lockdown. A lot of the places that our guests have accessed in the past, the libraries, restaurants, all of those types of places, even the day-shelters shutdown,” said Tracy Brooks, Senior Director of Emergency Services with the Denver Rescue Mission.

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The Rescue Mission partnered with the City of Denver to run a 24/7 shelter at the National Western Stock Show, where there was space to allow men to spread out, and stay all day. Now the Mission has taken that model and applied it to its 48th Street Shelter. The capacity is limited due to social distancing, but it opens the doors for those without homes to get their basic needs met.

“And not to have to be worrying about those baseline needs, and then individuals are able and more willing to engage in case management, and look at those other steps that they need to take to move out of homelessness,” Brooks explained.

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Since going to a 24/7 sheltering model, the Rescue Mission has been able to expand its case management, helping more people overcome the barriers to getting employed and getting housed. David was in the 48th Street shelter, and now he’s moving into the Rescue Mission’s New Life Program.

“I need to not drink because that’s what distracting me, so this is a treatment situation for me,” David told CBS4.

He’ll get the treatment he needs, but he’ll always carry the scares of being without a home. David recently had to have the tip of his big toe amputated due to damage from frostbite.

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“It looks good compared to what it did,” David said as he showed us his wounded toe.

A father and grandfather, David has worked construction for 45 years. He owned his own businesses. But as he got older, his body started to hurt, and he started to self-medicate.

“That turned into a little bit more, than a little bit more, then you know started messing with my head,” David explained.

Now he’s one of the many people that the Denver Rescue Mission has been able to move out of the shelter toward self-sufficiency.

“This is a great program, in my opinion,” he said.

LINK: Spread the Warmth

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CBS4 has partnered with the Denver Rescue Mission to Spread the Warmth this winter. You can make a donation by texting “WARMTH” to 24365.

Libby Smith