Tracking exactly how many people come to Denver Rescue Mission for one or many of its services is a difficult task, according to the nonprofit’s president and CEO Brad Meuli. But the numbers he does have underscore the needs of the Mile High City’s homeless population.
Between June 2021 and 2022, the organization’s fiscal year, Denver Rescue Mission served more than 1 million meals, provided 351,471 nights of shelter and helped 480 households relocate into permanent dwellings. More than 6,700 people took advantage of one or more of the organization’s emergency services.
Founded in 1892, Denver Rescue Mission is a Christian organization dedicated to supporting people experiencing homelessness through emergency shelter, food and health services. It maintains two shelters in Denver – at 1130 Park Ave. West and 4600 East 48th Ave. – and a northern Colorado branch, the Fort Collins Rescue Mission.
Meuli said often people think of the nonprofit as a soup kitchen, but in truth he and his team do much more than that. The Mission, as Meuli calls it, hosts children for after school tutoring, runs rehabilitation programs for those struggling with addiction, and seeks to transition folks off the streets for good.
“Our goal has always been to get people out of homelessness. In Colorado, it’s always been a challenge,” Meuli said.
Denver Rescue Mission does that by sheltering individuals and partnering with organizations such as Urban Peak to find them placement.
Denver Rescue Mission
Address: Locations at 4600 East 48th Ave., Denver, CO 80216; 1130 Park Ave. West, Denver, CO 80205; 316 Jefferson St., Fort Collins, CO 80524
In operation since: 1892
Number of employees: 320
Annual budget: $42 million
Percentage that goes directly to client services: 86%
Number of clients served in fiscal year 2021: 6,700+
Last year’s effort was a commendable one, but the state’s affordable housing crisis is preventing the Mission from helping further. For example, more than 30 men who currently reside at the shelter have filled out the necessary paperwork and are ready to move, but “we can’t find any housing for them because that’s not available,” Meuli said.
A January report by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative found that the number of people experiencing first-time homelessness doubled between 2020 and 2021. Meuli said demand for Denver Rescue Mission’s services spiked during COVID-19 and has remained consistently elevated.
In the early days of the pandemic, the organization closed one of its facilities to help run a 600-bed auxiliary shelter at the National Western Complex. It later reopened its shelter on 48th Avenue as 24-hour safe haven. Meuli said it’s one of the largest men’s shelters in the country.
“To have shelters that are 24/7 meant that instead of having one shift at night when people come in, you have three shifts,” Meuli said. Denver Rescue Mission has hired more than 100 employees since late 2019 to meet the demand and is seeking to hire more.
“The wonderful thing is when people experiencing homelessness can come in, they start getting the rest they need and not worrying about where they might spend the night or when they might get to eat. And they start saying, ‘What can I do to get out of this?’” Meuli said.
The Denver Post Season To Share is the annual holiday fundraising campaign for The Denver Post and The Denver Post Community Foundation, a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, tax identification #27-4328521. Grants are awarded to local nonprofit agencies that provide life-changing programs to help low-income children, families and individuals move out of poverty toward stabilization and self-sufficiency. Visit seasontoshare.com for more information.