City officials and advocates for the homeless were caught by surprise last week when the Salvation Army announced that it is closing its Crossroads overnight shelter in Denver. The decision will put dozens of homeless men — including sex offenders — on the streets, and officials are scrambling to find them alternative housing.
“We learned about it last Thursday, and the shift in service was a surprise to us,” said Jamie Van Leeuwen, project manager for Denver’s Road Home program. “We’ve been having ongoing dialogue with the Salvation Army and other homeless providers to better understand their impact on homeless services in Denver.”
The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless also was caught unawares.
“We’re literally just becoming aware of this now,” said BJ Iacino, spokeswoman for the coalition. ”We’re just trying to understand what it means and what its impact on us. . . . We do not have enough information, so we’re scrambling.”
The Salvation Army’s decision last Wednesday to no longer maintain an overnight shelter at Crossroads, 1901 29th St., is part of a shift in focus toward getting homeless people into transitional housing.
“Some people have been staying there for years, and we feel that is not appropriate,” said Capt. Ron McKinney, the Salvation Army’s metro Denver coordinator. “We are giving everyone a chance to get into the transitional housing program and give them the tools for self-sufficiency. It’s their choice, but we feel we owe it to them and to our donors that we break the cycle of homelessness.”
The overnight shelter will be closed as of Aug. 10. However, after meeting with community officials, the Salvation Army will allow sex offenders to stay at the Crossroads shelter through the end of the month.
Where do the sex offenders go?