Record low temperatures took Pueblo off guard Thursday night, especially in the city’s homeless community.
The city of Pueblo currently doesn’t have a warming shelter for the people living on the street. The new permanent homeless shelter on the 700 block of W. 4th Street is currently under construction but won’t be ready until year’s end.
City officials tell KRDO they don’t have any plans to look for a temporary shelter location while they wait for the new spot to open.
Mayor Nick Gradisar says that by the time they find a place for a temporary warming shelter, the permanent location will already be open.
Last year’s temporary warming shelter on 9th Street, which saw more than 8,000 visits in just a little more than four months, is no longer usable for shelter purposes.
As for the 500-plus homeless living on Pueblo’s streets, according to the 2019 citywide count, these winter months without a shelter could have dire consequences.
“I imagine some of [the homeless] are probably going to freeze to death,” said Roger Monday, a homeless man who has called the streets of Pueblo home since 2011. “It was colder than Hell last night, it was snowing. I had no tarp. I had a few blankets, that’s what got me by.”
“The homeless folks in Pueblo are patient with this process,” insists Kathy Cline with the Pueblo Rescue Mission.
Pueblo Rescue Mission operated the temporary warming shelter on 9th Street, which was paid for by the city.
They are currently overseeing the construction of the new transitional shelter and its operations as well.
Cline says she’s been working with the city closely on this project, and everyone involved is aware of the project’s timeline. She insists that the construction of the shelter is on time.
“It has always been a construction project that was going to take 90 to 120 days,” said Cline. “In a perfect world, we would’ve maybe been able to find something temporarily but the rescue mission right now. This is our focus and once it’s open it will always be open.”
Cline says Pueblo Rescue Mission does not have the resources to fund a temporary warming shelter.
Gradisar says if the temperatures get below zero before the opening of the new shelter, the city will take action and look to house homeless elsewhere.
In the meantime, if you’d like to help Pueblo’s homeless stay warm this winter here’s how:
From 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., 728 W. 4th Street Saturday, the Pueblo Rescue Mission will be collecting sleeping bags, coats, hats, gloves anything to keep the homeless in Pueblo warm.
KRDO Only 2019