New Day Shelter Opens Downtown

The Denver Rescue Mission's Lawrence Street Community Center held its grand opening today, despite legal setbacks.  

December 2 2015, 3:40 PM

The Lawrence Street front of the new day shelter; photo by author

The men, women, and children of Denver who are without somewhere to keep warm and fulfill basic needs during the day now have a new space to do just that. This morning, community members, support service staffers, and city representatives celebrated the grand opening of Denver Rescue Mission’s new facility, the Lawrence Street Community Center.

The $8.6 million facility, which sits next door to the Denver Rescue Mission at Lawrence and 22nd streets, provides a safe place and basic amenities to those who need them. Its services include showers, bathrooms, some meals, outlets to charge phones and other devices, and both a large indoor space and outdoor courtyard. The city-subsidized center—its construction was paid for by taxpayer dollars and donor funds—is sans beds and open only during daylight hours. The space also serves as a post point for people waiting for a bed in the Mission’s overnight Lawrence Street Shelter.

The day shelter opened its doors to the public just days before Thanksgiving, four years after the project was first proposed in 2011, and only one calendar year since it was approved by the Denver City Council in 2014. The project faced a slight delay due to legal hiccups with the Ballpark Neighborhood Association, which claimed that the center would be in violation of a zoning code. In recent years, the association has been pushing back against the growing hub of homeless services and shelters in the area, as well as the visible homeless population that seeks refuge and support in the neighborhood. Currently, a 24-hour shelter promised by Mayor Michael Hancock in 2012 is still pending.

(Read "Our Town," 5280's special report on homelessness in Denver)