Cold Weather Fills Local Homeless Shelter to Capacity
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - Some people can barely handle walking outside for a few minutes in the winter cold, for others that's a reality 24/7.
"Most of the time during the year, a lot of our residents are camping somewhere down in the valley or along the river ... as it gets colder we start seeing more people coming into the shelter," said AJ Johnson, Executive Director of Homeward Bound Homeless Shelter.
Johnson says this winter they've been exceeding their maximum capacity by the dozens every night.
"We'd have 140 people in here or 100 something people in here on a nightly basis, which we don't have the space for, we can't do it," said Johnson.
If there's no where for those who are homeless to stay they may pick different options that could get them in trouble with the law.
"They may end up staying in an alcove in a building which creates some problems for the owner of the business or a resident," said Cpl. Robert Culver of the Grand Junction Police Department.
As one of the few shelters on the Western Slope, Homeward Bound has already tapped into their overflow program to make sure folks always have an option.
A dozen local churches take turns every two weeks housing any folks that may not fit in the shelter.
"They take on average anywhere from 16-20 of our individuals on a nightly basis and house them overnight," said Johnson.
It's an extra assistance that, they say, not only helps the shelter but during the colder seasons may help save lives.
"What you'd have is a lot more encampments, a lot more people camping out and trying to make it and probably a lot more deaths in the community as a result of it," said Johnson.
Residents are able to get a hot meal and shower whether they are staying inside of the shelter or at one of the overflow locations.
If you are interested in donating or volunteering with Homeward Bound, visit their website at www.HomewardBoundGJ.org.