PUEBLO – City Council will meet tonight in Pueblo to discuss an emergency ordinance to create a homeless warming shelter in the form of tents, heaters and port-a-potties in the parking lot of the closed Wayside Cross Rescue Mission.
It will cost the city $150,000 out of the general fund to complete the project. Anyone needing a place to stay overnight will be welcome within the 40-foot by 40-foot military-style tents. This would be a low-barrier shelter, allowing people to come as they are without a screening for drugs or alcohol.
The property at 728 W. 4th St., currently owned by the Springs Rescue Mission, is the only property zoned for a homeless shelter in Pueblo. The building is currently shuttered and gutted. Springs Rescue Mission has granted the city permission to use the parking lots for the tents.
The alternative is going without a place for the homeless as we head into winter months.
The urgent need for a temporary warming shelter first arose with the permanent closure this spring of the former Salvation Army building on 13th Street. City leaders tried to create a solution this summer with the acquisition of the Bargain Box building at 4th and Chestnut, just east of I-25. That plan fell apart when it was discovered the building was not up to code, with repairs estimated above the value of the buildings.
Pueblo City Councilman Mark Aliff told News5 he reached out to local military installations to try to acquire the tents, but to no avail. “We reached out to Fort Carson, we reached out to Peterson Air Force Base and the National Guard, and was turned down by all three,” Aliff said. A local company will instead provide the tents. Aliff says the idea right now is to heat them with propane heaters.
There are some questions that need to be answered before council members vote in favor of or against the project. As of last week, there wasn’t an answer on who would provide staff and security. Other concerns include safety, sanitation, segregation of men and women, mental and physical health monitoring, security, and fire or carbon monoxide poisoning risk.
News5 will attend the city council meeting starting at 7 p.m. and will bring you the results of the discussion.