Its new, 168-bed, $3.2 million, year-round, low-barrier shelter will open tonight, the second night of wintry weather to hit Colorado Springs this season. The beautiful new structure is the first part of a big expansion that will also include a day/resource center (opening in 2017), a much larger kitchen and dining hall (opening fall of 2018), and a welcome center (opening fall 2018).
The city has helped SRM with the project by directing federal dollars its way, but much of the work is being funded by donations. The expansion meets a critical need for the city, which has few places to temporarily house homeless people — even in the most frigid months. It was hoped the shelter would open earlier in the season, but construction delays prevented that. Thankfully, warm weather meant less dangerous conditions for those forced to sleep outside.
Speaking of which, earlier in the year, a homeless camp on SRM property had been allowed to slowly expand, in recognition of the fact that its residents had nowhere else to go until the new shelter was complete. But it was disbanded in October. The opening of the shelter means many of those who felt safe at the complex at 5 W. Las Vegas Street can now return.
In addition to bunk beds, the new shelter has room for another 32 mats on the floor if the need is great. The space, which was built to be green and uses geothermal power, also features tables, coffee bars, and bathrooms with stalls.
It's likely that the new shelter will house men for now, as an emergency shelter on the campus has room for 57 women.
Want to see what the project will look like when it's finished? Check out SRM's video: