DENVER (KDVR) — Those seeking shelter and warmth at Denver’s rec centers were unpleasantly met with closed doors as the city did not do what it said it was going to do.

Despite telling FOX31 the city would keep rec centers open as warming shelters through business hours Wednesday, the city reversed course late Tuesday night and decided to only keep the McNichols Civic Center Building open as a warming shelter. 

The city closed typical business operations for Wednesday. Only 24-hour city services, including snow response, traffic operations trash and public safety would maintain regular operating schedules Wednesday, according to a city spokesperson.

Temperatures dipped into the low 20s overnight and the high Wednesday was forecast at 30 degrees.

Denver Public Library locations were initially expected to be “available to the public as an indoor reprieve from the cold,” however a later decision was made to close them on Wednesday.

The McNichols Civic Center Building opened as an overnight shelter and will remain open until 8 a.m. Friday, the city said Wednesday afternoon.

City’s response to why rec centers weren’t opened

Early yesterday, we planned on all operating recreation centers to be used as warming centers during regular business hours on Wednesday for anyone that needed to warm up or come in from the cold. Late last night, it was decided that Denver city government would be closed to the public today in anticipation of inclement weather conditions and that the McNichols Civic Center Building would be open as a daytime warming center for anyone who needs a place to stay warm. Only 24-hour city services will maintain regular operating schedules today. This includes snow response, traffic operations, trash/recycling, 311, emergency shelters, McNichols Civic Center Building overnight shelter, and public safety and emergency responder operations.

Wednesday afternoon, the city sent out a release that rec centers will be open during normal business hours on Thursday and each center will have an area staffed with access to drinking water, restrooms and a place to sit.

The city said in the release, “Outreach workers have been redirecting individuals to other indoor options throughout the day, and there has been adequate space in the city’s shelter system, including 24/7 shelters, to support all who are experiencing unsheltered homelessness with space to come inside during the winter weather.”  

The capacity of city shelters funded by the Department of Housing Stability is 2,100 and McNichols was prepared to accommodate 200 people. A spokesperson for the city said there was a total of 2,085 people in the city’s shelters overnight and an additional 46 people at McNichols.