The Denver Coliseum, previously used as an emergency homeless shelter at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be opened as a 24-hour warming shelter on Wednesday ahead of a brutal cold front expected to arrive in the city that evening.
Denver officials announced the activation of the coliseum in a news release Monday.
Specific information about when the facility at 4600 Humboldt St. would open to people needing refuge was not immediately available. More details about the timing and potential transportation to the facility located on the city’s northern edge should be released on Tuesday, according to officials with the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment.
The National Weather Service forecast for Denver calls for a high temperature of 50 degrees on Wednesday but then a blast of arctic air is expected to sweep into town and create a potentially dangerous situation for people without shelter.
The overnight low on Wednesday is expected to be -13 degrees, according to the Weather Service. There is a 90% chance of snow. On Thursday, the high temperature is expected to peak at -2 degrees and Friday is expected to top out at 15 degrees, still well below freezing.
Beyond the coliseum, the city is planning to open recreation centers and libraries as daytime warming shelters during their normal hours of operation on Thursday and Friday, according to Monday’s announcement. A list of thoss hours can be found on Denvergov.org. Additional sheltering information for people who are unhoused is available at denvergov.org/findshelter.
“Extreme temperatures are dangerous, especially combined with other health conditions, and can lead to a higher risk of hypothermia, frostbite, and carbon monoxide poisoning,” Monday’s news release reads. “The City and County encourages everyone to seek shelter and limit time out of doors beginning on Wednesday evening.”
The city recommends that people prepare for power outages ahead of the cold front including by making sure members of their households are stocked up on any medications they may need. Residents are also urged to have extra batteries available for radios and flashlights if needed.
Anyone who loses heat in their home during the freeze should consider visiting a warming shelter, the city says. Those who have to spend any amount of time outdoors are urged to dress in layers and wear winter hats, gloves, scarves and warm boots if possible.
The city is also in the midst of a crisis in seeking to house over 1,100 migrants from the southern border that have arrived in Denver since Dec. 9. More than 400 migrants are already staying in city emergency shelters and another 153 are staying with organizations that are partnering with the city to respond to the influx of new arrivals.
The City Council on Monday approved extending Mayor Michael Hancock’s emergency declaration in relation to that crisis. The declaration gives the city increased access to state and federal funding and more spending flexibility to meet the needs of the people arriving here.