Denver at ‘breaking point’ amid migrant arrivals, frigid temperatures

By: - December 21, 2022 3:30 pm

Fog and blowing snow obscure a street on March 14, 2021, in Denver. (Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

As an arctic cold front moves its way into Colorado and the Denver metro area beginning Wednesday night, leaders are preparing to move people experiencing homelessness and others into warming shelters.

“I want to be clear: The weather we are anticipating this afternoon and through the next two days will be extremely dangerous and I encourage everyone to stay inside, seek shelter, and limit time outdoors,” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said during a Wednesday press conference.


The low in Denver will be about -11 degrees Fahrenheit with wind chill values as low as -23 degrees on Wednesday night. It will stay frigid until Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Areas of the Eastern Plains could feel as cold as -60 degrees with wind chill.

Denver began operating a temporary warming shelter at the Denver Coliseum, 4600 Humboldt St., beginning at 3 p.m. Wednesday. People who need transportation to the site can take a bus from the Lawrence Street Community Center at 2222 Lawrence St. Additionally, outreach support, law enforcement and other agencies plan to help people find transportation to the warming center.

There will be 225 beds available at the Denver Coliseum.

Denver mayor issues emergency declaration to support migrant arrivals

The city’s regular shelter system is also available to help people experiencing homelessness get inside during the cold weather. On Monday night, 1,936 people stayed in a shelter, according to Britta Fisher, the city’s chief housing officer.

Recreation centers and libraries will be available as warming centers during regular operating hours.

Coupled with supporting the unhoused population during the cold weather, the city is also supporting an influx of migrants from the southern border who have arrived in the city in recent weeks. Over 1,300 people have come to Denver since the start of December, with more arriving each day.

“Not only are we worried about people being outdoors during this time, but we are at a breaking point in terms of resources and ability to accommodate people,” Hancock said. “We’ve all raised the red flag, talking to various counterparts across the country as well as the White House.”

Hancock said the city has spent about $2 million so far on shelter and other needs for the migrants and applied for a $1.5 million reimbursement from the state Wednesday. The city is operating two congregate shelters for migrants at undisclosed locations.

Gov. Jared Polis activated over 100 Colorado National Guard members on Wednesday to help with cold weather support.

Other Front Range shelters

In Pueblo, people can find a warming shelter at the Pueblo Transit Center, 123 Court St., from Thursday until Saturday. Local churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other religious institutions may use their buildings as temporary shelters under a declaration of temporary housing and shelter emergency.

People in Colorado Springs can find shelter at the Springs Rescue Mission at 5 W. Las Vegas St. and at the Salvation Army R.J. Montgomery Center at 709 S Sierra Madre St.

In Fort Collins, men seeking overnight shelter can get added to Fort Collins Rescue Mission’s bed list by going to the Murphy Center at 242 Conifer St., at the Rescue Mission’s main location at 316 Jefferson St., or by calling the Rescue Mission at 970-224-4302. Women can go to Catholic Charities at 460 Linden Center Dr. The Murphy Center will operate as an indoor day shelter on Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.


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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado.