Shortage of shelter beds for homeless families

Posted at 9:09 PM, Jan 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-16 14:18:02-05

It is a sad trend in the metro area: one of the fastest growing populations among the homeless, is families. While programs are available, there is a shortage when it comes to overnight shelter beds.

"I need a miracle," said Victoria Mitchell. At 21, she is currently homeless with a ten-month old and another baby on the way. Mitchell said she has nowhere to go. 

"All the shelters on the three pages of this have no openings for families or anything," she said, sitting in the front seat of the Chevy Astrovan she's dedicated to not sleeping in.

Denver has a handful of overnight shelters for families, including the Samaritan House downtown. Every one of the shelters we contacted was already full or fills up nightly.

Denver7 spoke with leaders of "Denver's Road Home," a homelessness program, via conference call. They provide hotel room vouchers for some Denver families.

"The demand greatly outpaces the capacity," organization executive Director Bennie Milliner said. In Jefferson County, the story is the same.

"We stay full. If we have a client discharges in the morning, that bed will be full same day," Action Center shelter manager Matt Hire said.

The Action Center shelter is the only one in the entire county and the only place with rooms for homeless families with a total of three rooms.

"We're in a crisis stage when it comes to finding adequate shelter beds for families within our seven-county metro community," Hire said.

That means Victoria Mitchell and her son have to wait. "It kind of makes me feel hopeless I guess," she said.

In many cases during winter months, the shelters will expand and provide emergency assistance or additional hotel vouchers. But even then, many community leaders admit capacity is lacking for families.

For more information on how you can help, head to CloseToHome.  


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