Northglenn City Council will consider a resolution to use the old recreation center as winter housing on Dec. 6. 

If approved, the program would run through March 2022 and house 25 people who are experiencing homelessness and would be open overnight, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The program would be operated by Denver Rescue Mission and funded by Adams County. The exact start date depends on the council’s decision and how fast the Denver Rescue Mission can staff the program.

In Adams County, homelessness increased between 40 and 45 percent since the COVID pandemic. As well, no emergency shelter currently exists to connect people experiencing homelessness during cold nights. The closest one rests 20 miles outside of Northglenn. 

For those needing housing, they must be referred by a Northglenn Crisis Response Unit, Adams County Street Outreach Team or the Northglenn Police Department. 

Participants must be 18 years or older, have employment or a community connection. Connections can include attending day school, a day center, or staying with friends or family. Families with children will be referred to Adams 12 Five Star schools which can provide resources through a federal act. 

The program aims to serve those left out by the Severe Weather Action Plan, a county program adopted in 2020 to help people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. The intake hours for the SWAP are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those experiencing homelessness come to the program in the morning and room distribution occurs around 1 p.m. Since working folks miss these intake hours, the new program will accommodate those folks. 

Male and females will be separated and each bed will be spaced six feet apart for COVID safety. 

The staff remains confident in making long-term connections for these folks, which can include transitional housing, longer-term housing, using housing vouchers or identifying appropriate low-income housing, before the program ends.

The program only exists for four months because the building will be unusable after March 2022. The Civic Center Master Plan, which will redevelop the current Civic Center Campus, includes the old recreation center.

Costs and safety

During an informational meeting Dec. 1 with residents and neighbors at the old rec center, one community member voiced concerns over the cost of the program noting that it would cost the city $231,000 over 120 nights — $1,900 per night and about $77 per person helped. She asked if costs could be brought down or the program could provide more services. 

Josh Geppalt, Vice President of Operations for the Denver Rescue Mission, said the cost remains high because of economies of scale; the mission usually runs programs with more people and two staff members are needed. 

Shane Doss, the general manager at the Delta Hotel in Northglenn, voiced concerns about the safety of his guests. 

“With the underpass over the interstate, we find that to be a big area for us, for people coming from the other side,” he said. “I have had people get in that are part of the homeless population that have gotten in the building, as well as set off the fire alarm in the building, they have attacked an employee before.” 

Jessica Hulse, Crisis Response Unit Program Manager for the City of Northglenn, emphasized that the program would be working with the unsheltered community members and explained accepted referrals would come from those with day connections. 

“Those residents are already here,” she said. “Making a program that actually works on helping them, serving people that need resources is hopefully going to also decrease stress on businesses in the area.”