DENVER -- Long before RiNo became one of Denver's hottest neighborhoods, the Salvation Army bought an old warehouse.
Now, the Salvation Army's Crossroads Shelter serves about 400 homeless men, every night, right in the middle of Denver's rapid gentrification.
"Originally, when the shelter was located there, it was all warehouses, and it was not much of a concern about what was happening in the area," said William Raihl, the divisional property director for the Salvation Army Intermountain Division, who pointed out that the need is only growing. "One of the positives of the Denver economy is growth, but one of the negatives is it's forcing people who have limited income out of their housing, and so there is no affordable housing for them. "
Meanwhile, the shelter needs significant work just to bring it up to safety codes. In the last year alone, the Salvation Army has spent more than $250,000 addressing safety issues, including upgrading the sprinkler system, but Raihl estimates the shelter needs another million dollars to meet safety code.
In the past, there was discussion about selling to a developer and moving someplace else.
"I just see rich people trying to take over poor people," said Joy Doberstein, who has been camping in her RV in the shelter parking lot for months. "The condos are beautiful. They did a good job on them and stuff, but the men need this shelter bad. I wish they could get more donations and they could rebuild it or remodel it or something."
That is now what the Salvation Army plans to do, after the advisory board recently recommended staying put and rebuilding.
"Simply because there is no place else for the men to go," said Raihl, who said the designs are still in the planning phase and the funding hasn't been secured, but what's most important is providing affordable housing and a place for the homeless to feel safe. "We're not about the bottom line, the dollars. We're about the bottom line which is serving humanity."