Salvation under Pressure
Know this and comprehend, all that stand aren’t supported.
Recently, urgent news that will impact hundreds of homeless men in Denver, Colorado was given to a concerned audience. The messenger carried a grave warning . “ The City of Denver wants to lower the amount of men allowed at the Salvation Army Crossroads Shelter”. The cut is not a small one either, hundreds of homeless men may be without a place to stay if the city gets it’s way.
At issue is the amount of men capable of occupying the warehouse structure, located at 1901 29th Street, in the under construction area of the hottest real estate market in D-town, known to area locals as the River North Arts District or RiNo district. Dilapidated properties are getting face lifts in the popular RiNo District, and trendy areas are becoming mainstream. New construction is everywhere to be seen on the other side of the Salvation Army Crossroads Shelter, where once only the RTD Platte Division, grain elevators, mechanics, and construction offices used to be.
Captain Eric Wilkerson of the Salvation Army Crossroads Shelter explained that officials from the city have stated that the shelter must no longer have residents sleeping in certain areas of the building, which will severely cut its present capacity. Now the configuration of the converted warehouse allows for hundreds of out of work and otherwise out of luck Salvation Army Crossroads Shelter clients a place to get in from the elements and rest. Captain Wilkerson stated with emphasis, that the shelter would no longer be able to accept the amount of men it has been accustomed to if the proposed restrictions were to be put into effect. “ Soon you may come here on a cold night, and I’ll have to tell you to leave, there’s no room for you. This is the only warehouse we got and there’s not anymore anywhere in Denver.” He said.
The Salvation Army Crossroads Shelter is a supportive element to the Denver homeless community. The shelter takes hundreds of homeless men a night off of the city streets of Denver, and provides support services for inclined men to transition from non-productive roles, into more productive roles. The Denver City Officials rules will reduce the amount of men staying at the shelter, by an estimated 100 to 300 clients per night.
The news was given to the clients early in the morning as the familiar routines of many had began, and the shock of the information was immediately present. Many clients speculated as to the danger reducing the capacity of the shelter puts them in. Some of the Salvation Army Crossroads Shelter clients are in vulnerable states, physically and mentally. At least having a cot and or a mat to separate the body from the floor, adds security and safety to Mechanically Assisted and Physically Encumbered People. If the city gets its way, the local city jails are likely to gain a larger contingent of inmates striving to remain warm and dry during the most trying parts of the Colorado year. “I’ll just break a window, and wait for the police to come get me”, says an unidentified client. “There’s no way I’m going to be able to make it out there during the winter, and there’s no place else for me to go.”
Other clients, speculate as to how the reduction could cause friction in an already volatile intake situation, where places in line could become a commodity. “Look man, I can stand in line all day and offer my spot to the dude with the most whatever…. You know what I mean?” Says a client that chose not divulge his identity. “This ain’t the Holiday Inn, and we ain’t on holiday, you got to be ready to survive in these streets, and some dudes may not be ready for it.”
With the Denver homeless population already feeling the pressure of Denver Police “Sweeps” to remove their encampments, the Denver Urban Camping Ban that prohibits lying down and covering up in Downtown Denver, and recent closings of other shelters brought on by rising property values, places for the homeless become limited to non-existent.
Some of the hardier homeless have said they will continue to camp clandestinely along rivers, in parks, and behind buildings etc.. But newly homeless men without camping experience and or ability, may be inclined to to make poorer decisions and sleep around private residences where they can be mistaken for intruders, and suffer serious consequences.
Denver, Colorado is attracting visitors from around the world for its world class environment, hotels, food, booze, entertainment, and yes weed. It is imperative it also becomes known for another world class quality, compassion. The ability to treat the homeless citizens with the decency deserving of a human being tied to circumstances that are less than what is desired to be seen by the leaders of the city, and be left unmolested.