Soon Pueblo will be without a homeless shelter once again.
After Pueblo’s homeless shelter closed in May, the city worked to open a temporary warming shelter for the winter.
However, the warming shelter in the warehouse on Ninth Street behind midtown was a temporary solution for the extremely cold winter months.
Now the shelter is closing. The last shelter night will be April 30, and it will close May 1.
The number of people taking advantage of the warming shelter ran by The Pueblo Rescue Mission suggests a shelter is needed in the city of Pueblo.
Between Dec. 15 and the end of March, the shelter provided nearly 8,000 shelter nights.
On a busy night, they hosted 85 men and 27 women at the shelter, according to Shelter Director Kathy Kline.
Kline said many people they served used wheelchairs. Some were blind or deaf, and many were over the age of 60. One man was on a feeding tube.
“This is pretty significant medical care,” Kline said.
The shelter received donations to serve a sack lunch, with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Kline said the temperature doesn’t always dictate the population, and said most people sleep at the shelter for safety reasons, not to be warm.
Kline is working with the city council and applying for grants to transform the old rescue mission building, just east of the Fourth Street bridge.
The renovation would cost about $1 million.
This spot would have bunks and storage areas, and be able to serve hot meals as well as offer case management.
“We have to have something permanent,” Kline said. “The resources are the critical piece of this. It’s a support system to help you get to that next level. I think a lot of folks here can get there.”
Kline believes 32-year-old Samantha Rodriguez is one of those who can make it.
Life hasn’t been easy for Rodriguez. She lost her mom seven years ago, and shortly after, started using a wheelchair.
“I have tumors inside my spinal cord, but they can’t operate, so it’s too much of a risk, so it could kill me,” Rodriguez said.
Now she doesn’t have a good support system, with her family either being sick or into drugs.
She believes the shelter would give many people hope.
“I think it would change a lot of lives,” Rodriguez said.
In the meantime, the staff is looking ahead to the summer, because Colorado summers can also be brutal, with temps soaring over 100.
With people forced to camp outside, Kline and her staff are now worried about extreme heat.
They are asking for donations like sunscreen and bug spray.
“You can wrap up in blankets and sleeping bags, but the heat is hard to escape,” Kline said. “I mostly worry about not having enough water, because it’s really hard to access water in our community. It’s going to be one of our critical factors going forward.”
In conjunction with this effort, they are working on a project sponsored by a local band. The Hydration Project will give out water bottles to the homeless, and then staff will go out to a certain area and have fill-up stations to keep people from overheating.
The Pueblo Rescue Mission and the city council are working to fund a permanent shelter, ideally before next winter.