COLORADO SPRINGS – Temperatures this weekend are forecasted to be below freezing in Colorado Springs.
The Springs Rescue Mission expects they’ll have to operate above max capacity– to avoid turning anyone away.
“It’s been really cold early, so far. People are still sleeping outside from the summer, and probably aren’t expecting it,” said Charles Rooks, who is currently in the New Life Program-a yearlong residential men’s addiction recovery program.
Rooks says the program has helped him turn his life around, and says the Springs Rescue Shelter was the first step in that recovery.
“I was at about the shelter here for two or three weeks in the middle of November last year. It was a blessing just to have a nice warm back to come back to after being outside all day, trying to find a job.”
Colorado Springs City Council recently approved funding for a total of 370 low-barrier shelter beds, to be built at Springs Rescue Mission and Salvation Army.
But now, the clock is ticking for Springs Rescue Mission, as staff work to get those beds installed before the cold, frigid weather settle in.
But it’s not an overnight process.
“We actually started kicking it into high gear about 3 weeks ago, knowing that winter was coming,” said SRM Chief Operating Officer Terry Anderson.
Springs Rescue Mission has called in extra resources to get 100 temporary, low barrier beds built by November 1st.
By December 1st, the plan is to transition to 150 beds in another building on site, previously used to house donations.
Staff know freezing temps will roll in before either of those deadlines.
“No one that works here wants to be the person that tells someone they can’t come inside for the night,” said Anderson.
The alternative proved to be deadly last winter, with four homeless people dying from weather-related causes.
“They’ll probably be amongst the rocks. And they’ll probably make a shelter with a tarp or something,” said Gain Shivley, who tells News5 he’s been staying at the warming shelter for about a year.
Anderson says that’s an absolute last resort this weekend.
“What we’re doing right now is operating over capacity. We’re doing everything we can to make sure no on gets turned away.”