RiNo residents express concerns about problems posed by Denver’s largest homeless shelter

DENVER -- It appears Denver's busiest homeless shelter is here to stay, at least through the rest of this year.

City council Monday night approved an extension for the Salvation Army's Crossroads Shelter in the RiNo District.

The shelter, which often houses more than 600 men during the busy winter months, fills a big need in the city of Denver.

However, some people who live near the shelter are expressing concerns about safety in the area.

"It's more uncomfortable  than anything," said a woman named Haley, who lives nearby. "I understand the location. I just think it's a little close to home. "
The building off of Brighton Boulevard first opened its doors in the early 2000's when the Salvation Army transformed the aging warehouse into a shelter.
It's now the city's busiest, at times housing close to 700 men. Neighbors say those large numbers have brought a number of problems.
"I've heard of some windows on cars smashed, some break-ins. I had a jacket taken off my porch," Haley said.
"I fell asleep on the couch one night and heard my gate open. I was like, what the hell was that?" said Michael Didia, who also lives near the shelter.
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Didia says someone stole pillows off his patio. He acknowledges it's a minor crime, but he says he fears it could lead to bigger ones.
"When I come out in the morning to walk the dogs early they're pretty much lined up on everybody's stoops. People are just sitting there. It's kind of unnerving," he said.
The Crossroads Shelter has also had problems of its own.
The fire department has identified numerous health and safety violations at the facility in the past, everything from overcrowding to inadequate escape routes and restrooms.
The Salvation Army has spent at least $200,000 addressing those issues while also discussing a more permanent solution.
The Salvation Army plans to eventually demolish the aging shelter and rebuild on the same site. However, there is currently no timeline as to when that might happen.
As for the contract extension approved by city council on Monday night, Salvation Army Major Divisional Commander Mike Dickinson released this statement:
"The Salvation Army's contract with the City and County of Denver covers the operational cost of providing essential services to 240 men who stay at Crossroads each night. This contract has been extended twice since it commenced on January 1, 2017 and this second extension covers the remaining six months of the year. We are working with the City and partnering with agencies to remain compliant with zoning regulations and the set occupancy number. We will continue to work with the City and County of Denver to meet the unmet needs of our growing city and remain grateful to the community for its continued support."
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