Boulder’s severe weather shelter opens during winter weather forecast

Boulder’s severe weather shelter will be open Tuesday and Wednesday nights while the county is under a winter weather advisory.

Between 25 and 30 beds will be available at the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, 4869 Broadway, said Director of Housing and Human Services Kurt Firnhaber.

The shelter has 120 beds now, and shelter Chief Executive Officer Greg Harms said Friday that the shelter had been averaging 100 people each night.

Firnhaber said it is possible that more than 30 people need shelter, and once the shelter reaches capacity, people will be turned away.

“With COVID 19 we cannot go over capacity to maintain social distancing and bed layouts determined by public health,” he said in an email.

The severe weather shelter typically runs from Oct. 1 to May 31, and is offered on nights where there is a National Weather Service warning or watch for winter weather, a prediction of temperature below 32 degrees or a prediction of temperatures below 38 degrees with a likelihood of precipitation, said city spokesman Zach McGee in an email.

The National Weather Service winter weather advisory is set to expire noon Wednesday, and a freeze warning is in effect from 6 p.m. Tuesday to noon Wednesday. Snow and rain are forecasted Wednesday, with a low of 33 degrees Wednesday night.

“During these times of transitional weather, it is important to ensure individuals are aware of available services in our community,” McGee said in the email. “We have been in close contact with many people and agencies who work with the unhoused, and we are hopeful that last night’s (Monday night’s) 24 unused beds at BSH will be filled tonight by people who need them.”

In response to the cold weather, Longmont’s Homeless Outreach Providing Encouragement, a nonprofit that helps the homeless, offered emergency shelter at Journey Church, 2000 Pike Road, on Monday and Tuesday nights. The shelter, which normally closes at 8 a.m., will remain open until 1 p.m. Wednesday, said Joseph Zanovitch, HOPE’s executive director. The nonprofit typically connects people to a shelter through navigation services, but because of the weather, anyone was welcome, as long as they had not been banned from the services, Zanovitch said.

On July 14, Boulder City Council directed city staff to investigate options for overflow and ways to increase severe weather shelter capacity on the coldest nights, McGee said.

Staff has been working with Boulder Shelter for the Homeless to develop a plan, which will be presented to council Sept. 22.

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