PUEBLO, Colorado — An emergency warming shelter is now open in Pueblo. The Pueblo Rescue Mission will manage the shelter at 901 W. 9th Street, on a temporary basis until a permanent facility opens. This is the same facility used as an emergency shelter last winter.
The Mission is in the process of remodeling the former Wayside Cross facility. Director Kathy Cline explained that those renovations will not be complete for another 60 to 90 days.
"This gives us a little time to actually come up with a plan going forward at least for the next couple months until the 4th Street property is open as the permanent shelter," Cline explained.
The decision to open an emergency facility was based on safety. Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar said police officers were patrolling the streets durings the storm Tuesday night looking for people to bring in out of the cold.
"You know, this is sort of a historic freeze this early in the year of the snow storms though this early in the air so I was keep my fingers crossed we make it till December when the permanence shelter open but obviously that hasn't been the case," Gradisar said.
He estimates it will cost anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000 to keep an emergency shelter open until the new year. City Council is expected to discuss the issue on Monday night and decide whether to keep the facility open on a nightly basis, or only when the temperatures reach dangerous lows.
"Part the city's responsibility is to protect our citizens and that's why we're taking these efforts right now," Gradisar said.
Cline is currently paying the expenses out of pocket. She's hired staff, rented portable toilet,s and paid for private security to keep the peace. As an emergency shelter, the building will only be open from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.
"I have to know what the city decides on whether or open every day or if we're open just on certain days," Cline explained.
The decision to open an emergency shelter came about so quickly, Cline said there wasn't time to bring over the sleeping mats that were previously used here. However, she anticipates that things will return to normal by Thursday evening.