‘We’re at capacity right now’: Shelter bed shortage forces homeless shelters to turn people away

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The dramatic drop in temperatures throughout most of southern Colorado Sunday had homeless shelters scrambling to make room for more people.

“We are pushing our capacity. People are trying to seek shelter out of these freezing temperatures,” said Travis Williams, the chief development officer for the Springs Rescue Mission.

He said the shelter can accommodate 290 people, but on cold nights, there are roughly 317 people looking for shelter.

“This year -- unfortunately, even this week -- we’ve had to turn approximately 20 people away every night because we have just not been able to have enough room,” Williams said.

The shelter is working to fix that shortage. Construction is underway to add 150 more beds, which would bring the total to roughly 450 beds.

“We’re doing all that we can to move as quickly as we can to provide the right kind of relief for individuals who are seeking shelter in these cold temperatures,” Williams said.

In Mayor John Suthers’ State of the City address this year, he said he wanted to double the number of shelter beds in Colorado Springs.

The city council agreed to spend $500,000 on more shelters bed at its meeting in October. That money will help the Springs Rescue Mission and Salvation Army add about 370 beds.

With the help from the city council, the Springs Rescue Mission is planning to have the additional beds ready by November.

“Hopefully we won’t have to use them all, but at least the city will be able to have them to make sure nobody has to stay out in those cold, frigid temperatures,” Williams said.