AURORA | Aurora’s homeless shelter network is planning for more people seeking refuge from a frigid cold snap descending on the Denver metroplex.
Aurorans living in tents, on the street or in vehicles are faced with the prospect of nighttime lows near 0 this week. The National Weather Service forecasts a low temperature of -4 degrees Sunday night.
Mile High Behavioral Healthcare send out a text alert to homeless residents Wednesday that staff will create sleeping arrangements at the Aurora Day Resource Center between Thursday and Monday morning.
That resource hub is located at 13387 E. 19th Place and is usually only open for meals and resources during the day.
Mile High’s street outreach team will be driving their vans between encampments to get people indoors.
“Come on in from the cold!” the text alert reads. “Chef Robert is cooking up some good grub!!”
Arctic weather routinely causes deaths for homeless people in the U.S., Mike Marsico, director of programs and operations for Mile High, told the Sentinel Tuesday at the city’s emergency homeless shelter.
Mile High runs the emergency shelter at 3293 Oakland St., which the city launched in the fall amid swelling numbers of outdoor encampments.
Cold snaps can strain Mile High’s network of shelters, which are already in high demand because of social distancing requirements limiting space and rising homelessness in city limits. During an earlier snowstorm this winter, more than 100 people slept inside the so-called “E-Shelter,” said manager Tamara Jackson. Typically, there’s about 65 people there.
The City of Aurora also purchased ice-fishing tents at a cost of $300 each for an outdoor campsite, a city spokesperson told the Sentinel. 30 of the tents stand in a lot next to the E-Shelter, complete with a heater, a cot, a pillow, a sleeping bag and electricity, but they’re not in use.
As of Wednesday, the tents were reserved for homeless residents with COVID-19 who otherwise might spread the virus in shelters or encampments. But there were no cases in the shelter system, according to Mile High and the City.
“They are for COVID-positive, asymptomatic individuals experiencing homelessness,” said city spokesperson Ryan Luby. “None are in use currently as COVID-positive numbers are low. They may become available for safe camping in general if case numbers remain low.”