COLORADO SPRINGS — Freezing temperatures sweeping El Paso County are a major concern for those who have nowhere to go at the end of the day. The National Coalition for the Homeless reported around 700 people die every year in the United States from hypothermia. It's one of the reasons why the Springs Rescue Mission is dedicated to making sure they can give as many people shelter as possible.
The Springs Rescue Mission said last year, they had to turn away around 20 people. But this year, thanks to funding from the City of Colorado Springs and some private donors, they have increased their beds from 300 to 450. More space means they have not had to turn anyone away so far this year. "In fact, in that snowstorm that we had in October, we sheltered 475 individuals. So our policy right now, and unless something changes, if somebody wants shelter we're going to do all we can to love just a little bit bigger and make sure the folks who need shelter can find shelter," said Travis Williams, the chief development officer of the Springs Rescue Mission.
Williams said during the winter months, they average around 10-15 new people every night. "One of the things that we know is when the weather drops like it does, the temperatures drop, lives are literally on the line. We have seen individuals who have died because of hypothermia or frost bite, they just froze to death," said Williams.
One of the people who found shelter at the Springs Rescue Mission was Ross Palanker. Palanker said he's been homeless for around two years, and has been coming to the Springs Rescue Mission for the same amount of time. He also said he's had to spend nights out in the cold in the past. "It's hard, because you freeze, and you're cold, and you're angry with yourself, and you think about your situation that put you here," said Palanker.
Those with the Springs Rescue Mission said their bed count was low on the night of the 27th, but they expected to have a lot more people on the 28th. They also said donations make the difference, and the easiest way to make a contribution is online.