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October 31, 2019
For many, cold weather ushers in a time for cuddling beneath warm blankets and sipping from hot mugs. But for people experiencing homelessness, it means a change in plans. Sleeping outdoors is no longer a safe option when the thermometer drops below freezing. This year’s winter season started early with three snow storms and extreme low temperatures impacting Northern Colorado during October.
According to Homeward 2020, there are currently 434 individuals in Fort Collins who are experiencing long-term homelessness (6+ months). The number of individuals experiencing short-term or temporary homelessness, while difficult to determine, is likely much higher. When operating at capacity, our community’s local shelters increase their on-site capacity by adding extra overnight accommodations in cafeterias and chapels. However, even with the increase in capacity, our existing shelter sites do not meet the demand during severe winter weather.
To address this critical issue, United Way of Larimer County partners with City of Fort Collins, Catholic Charities, Homeward 2020, Fort Collins Rescue Mission, The Murphy Center, and local churches to provide cold-weather overflow shelters for our residents. Remote, community-based locations are key to ensuring that all who need shelter during winter weather have a safe and warm place to spend the night.
The overflow shelter season typically runs from November 1 through April 30 and provides shelter seven nights per week. Last year, this coalition of community partners provided more than 20,000 nights (duplicated) of shelter through the program and for the first time, warming centers were available seven nights per week, an increase from four nights during the 17-18 season.
This year’s Seasonal Overflow Shelter program opened early due to extreme low temperatures and early snowfalls. With predictions calling for an especially cold season, the Seasonal Overflow Shelters will likely see heavy use and needs your support. Please schedule your Colorado Gives Day gift today to help United Way meet this, and other, critical community needs.
Copyright 2015 United Way of Larimer County