Some homeless people may find it difficult to get indoors during Colorado Springs’ first major wintry blast of the season this weekend.
Despite snow and sub-freezing temperatures in the forecast for Sunday, the Springs Rescue Mission says it may not be able to accommodate many more people at its West Las Vegas Street campus, which has a capacity of about 300. The Salvation Army’s shelter off Sierra Madre Street also has been near its capacity of 220 people, according to the Pikes Peak Continuum of Care’s daily bed count.
As a result, many people will likely be forced to survive without shelter.
“We’re doing everything we can, obviously, to have as many people inside as possible,” said Terry Anderson, the Springs Rescue Mission’s chief operating officer. “We’ve been over capacity a couple nights in the more recent cold snap. And we’ve just put out extra mats and made it work.”
The storm comes as shelter operators race to expand amid a deep shortage in beds.
Another 370 “low-barrier” beds — where admission is based on behavior, not sobriety — are expected to be available by Jan. 1. Most of that extra space is expected to be available as early as Nov. 1.
But none of those extra beds will be available by Sunday, when the National Weather Service expects the high temperature to be 23 degrees. One to 2 inches of snow is forecast for Sunday, before temperatures fall to an overnight low of 14.
Anderson said space inside the nonprofit’s day center — its typical overflow facility — is already full with sleeping mats accommodating people while its women’s shelter is renovated.
“We’re doing a little bit of musical chairs here,” Anderson said. “We are going to make every effort to have as much room as we can possibly figure out. No one at the Rescue Mission wants to turn anyone away.”
Hundreds of people live outside. The most recent Point in Time homeless survey, which was conducted in January, showed that one-third of the 1,551 people counted slept in tents or on the streets. Shelter space was at a premium that night as well.
“This upcoming cold-weather snap reiterates the need and the urgency to get these low-barrier beds open as soon as possible, and we’re working on that every day,” said Andrew Phelps, the city’s homelessness prevention and response coordinator.