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Security company staffing new temporary homeless shelter ends deal with Denver

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Posted at 3:50 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 18:27:23-04

DENVER — Only 72 hours in, the security company that was staffing Denver's new temporary homeless shelter has ended its deal with the city, citing furloughs that will affect staffing.

The move came just as the Denver City Council on Monday night was expected to take up a $2.7 million contract through June for Argus to provide security services at the National Western Complex shelter during the COVID-19 crisis.

A Denver spokeswoman said Argus worked the shelter "without incident" before giving notice that it would be stopping services. The city "mobilized replacement resources to ensure there was no gap in services" at the shelter, the spokeswoman said.

In a statement, Argus said it was unable to continue staffing the shelter after having to furlough the majority of its employees Monday morning.

"Like many companies we are in the necessary spot of having to curtail expenses so we are not able to maintain that staff there," Andy Boian, an Argus spokesman, said in the statement.

Argus started working at the shelter Thursday and finished at 2 p.m. Sunday, with about 10-12 workers there per shift, Boian said.

Mayor Michael Hancock in a news conference Monday said the city was working to find a long-term solution for security services at the shelter but that other security companies have stepped in to help. Hancock did not say why Argus ended the deal.

A Denver City Council member told Denver7 that Argus did not believe they were a good fit for a 24/7 shelter operation. The company normally works events such as concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Rockies games at Coors Field.

A council member familiar with the matter told Denver7 that HSS, a Denver-based security company that specialized in healthcare services, will begin working at the National Western shelter.

"I'm very pleased to say that National Western shelter has been operating without any incidents," Denver Chief Housing Officer Britta Fisher said at the news conference with Hancock. "The mayor's been there and I've been there several times, and it's quite calm and orderly ... With any operation of this size and done in this short order, vendors are going to be continuously evaluated and updated as necessary."

The shelter already reached capacity over the weekend, housing 700 men who are experiencing homelessness. The shelter had more than 200 walkups in one day, Fisher said.

The city also plans to open the Denver Coliseum as a temporary shelter, and security will also be needed there.