Last week while out on outreach we learned from some men on the street that the Holly St Shelter was closing and they were just notified that day that they would have to be out and they had no idea where they were gonna stay the next night!@$ We reached out to the City on this and learned they are closing for renovations for about a month and that, according to the city, guests from Holly shelter were directed to stay at the Mission and Crossroads and that if needed the could ‘consider limited reactivation for Holly street but they don’t anticipate needing it’.
This week we talked to a few men who stayed at Holly shelter about how the closer has been affecting folks. All of the men we spoke with said the transition was sudden and confusing. One man explained that most of the former Holly shelter guests were now staying at the Mission upstairs or in the hallways on mats on the floor, that others were bused to 48th st shelter, and that they didn’t know where others were staying. He said that Crossroads was full and no one moved to stay there. He told how hard it was for him as a disabled man to navigate the beds. Another man told how his friend, who we met also but he only speaks spanish, had landed on the streets in a tent due to the Holly closure because the hours that they have to be in the Mission would not allow for him to work at his job.
We recently received records of shelter usage in May from the City. These records confirm what the man we met said about Crossroads being full. In May, Crossroads lowest bed usage was 293 out of 300 bed capacity and they have remained at or over capacity. So much for the City telling people to go to Crossroads!!#%
The guest numbers at Holly shelter fluctuate ranging from 96 and 182 in May. So we are talking up to 180 men that normally stay at Holly who now need somewhere to stay.
The Mission has a capacity for 175 people. Guest numbers ranged between 59 and 176 with an average of about 100 staying there. This leaves about 75 beds open for Holly guests if the Mission capacity is at an average or low use, not the high use which has run them at capacity. With a range of up to 182 guests at Holly and 96 on the lowest end, this ath does not add up for the Mission to shelter all these men.
48th St shelter has a capacity for 450 and for the month of May they were at capacity or over with lowest usage at 433. If we consider the lowest usage that leaves 27 beds for Holly guests.
No matter how you look at it, what is clear here is that assuming the existing shelters have room to take in all the men who had been staying at Holly is a stretch to say the least. They may be able to squeeze and smosh with added mats on the floor in the hallways and such, but for the City to say there is plenty of capacity is simply not true as confirmed by Holly guests and by the City’s shelter use records. And for others, like one of the men we met, shelter hours have left him out in a tent in order to hold his job.
Housekeys Action Network Denver
Towards rights, dignity, housing…