After being open for nearly six months 24 hours per day, seven days per week and serving nearly 470 guests with over 9,000 nights of shelter and 18,000 meals, on April 15 the cold weather shelter for those experiencing homelessness in Greeley will be closing for the season.
“Our Housing Navigation Center guests, staff and volunteers are thankful that the community again came together to provide our unhoused neighbors with a safe and warm place to stay this cold weather season,” shared Elizabeth Pike, United Way of Weld County’s Housing Navigation Center director. “This resource saves lives and gives our nonprofit, police, fire and other community partners a place to bring those who they otherwise would need to accommodate on their own or that would face the risk of dying outside due to exposure.”
In addition to space for 60 people at the Housing Navigation Center location, United Way staff worked with nearby motels to provide beds on evenings when there were more people needing accommodations than there was space available. Of the total number of nights of stay, 1,300+ were with motels. Special funding provided by City of Greeley for the season meant that everyone that requested shelter received shelter and it allowed for the 24/7 operations.
Families and some women found to be experiencing homelessness stayed at Catholic Charities’ Guadalupe Community Center. Dinners were provided by Weld Food Bank, with evening meals cooked at their north Greeley location and served by volunteers. Salvation Army provided 20 people a place to stay at their downtown Greeley location on some of the coldest nights of December.
With nearly $600,000 in expenses, 2022-23 cold weather shelter funding partners included City of Greeley, The Weld Trust, State of Colorado Department of Local Affairs Division of Housing, Wells Fargo, Christ Community Church, US Department of Homeland Security, State of Colorado Department of Corrections, Greeley Interfaith Association and numerous individual donors.
“We wish that City of Greeley and United Way could keep the overnight part of the Housing Navigation Center open year-round, but current funding only allows for overnight shelter during the cold weather season,” noted Juliana Kitten, City of Greeley assistant city manager. “A year-round overnight shelter would allow greater safety and stability to our neighbors who are unhoused. They are all eager to get back into permanent housing but need a place to stay with support while they figure out their path.”
As in prior years, the Housing Navigation Center had far more guests stay overnight than it has beds available. For most the service is a short-term resource, giving them respite while figuring out their next housing situation, be it on their own or with a friend or family member. That put, of those staying at the cold weather shelter in 2022-23, 138 guests are considered chronically homeless, which means they have a disability and have been without housing for at least a year or have had four total occurrences of homelessness in the past three years.
While the cold weather shelter is closing on April 15, the Housing Navigation Center will continue to be open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., working with guests to regain or keep housing. For more information about the Housing Navigation Center and its cold weather shelter or to discuss ways that you can help end homelessness in Greeley and Weld County, contact Ernest Cienfuegos-Baca, United Way of Weld County’s vice president of community impact, at ECienfuegosBaca@UnitedWay-Weld.org or 970-353-4300.