Homeless service organizations in Boulder County are heading into uncharted territory as a snow storm approaches in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.
According to Jim Kalina with the National Weather Service’s Boulder office, a winter storm warning will be in effect from 9 a.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Friday.
“We’re looking at about 4-10 inches of snow in the Boulder, Longmont area,” he said. “It could be a little breezy, too, winds are gusting to 40 miles per hour.”
Joseph Zanovitch, the executive director of HOPE Longmont, said that fears surrounding COVID-19 could change what the nonprofit sees at its night shelter during this storm.
“Normally, I would tell you, ‘Yeah, we’ll expect an influx of people during snow and colder weather,’” said Zanovitch. “But I think coronavirus, it still affects our community and no one wants to be stuck in a shelter during these times.
“I don’t know how the next two days will play out from a capacity standpoint, because … I think we’re dealing with A, not only is the shelter environment very hard for folks, but B, you’ve got this, where there’s an unknown and folks don’t really want to be in a shelter environment right now.”
He added that, despite more people coming in due to what he believes might be economic hardships brought on by the coronavirus, the nonprofit still has the capacity to take in more people.
“I imagine in the next few weeks we are going to see an uptick in folks needing services,” he said.
At the OUR Center, Executive Director Marc Cowell said that the nonprofit will be open during their normal hours of operation, though with preventative measures in place, such as only serving to-go meals during lunch time.
Cowell added that it’s hard to predict what kind of demand the OUR Center will have for its services.
“Once we think we kind of understand what’s happening, it changes on us,” he said. “So we really don’t know what to expect day to day and we don’t know what the storm. … It may bring in a lot of people or it may slow us down to hardly anyone.”
On Monday, the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, 4869 Broadway in Boulder, also adopted the same daytime sheltering criteria as nonprofit Bridge House’s severe weather shelter at 2691 30th St. in Boulder.
Daytime sheltering services at the 160-bed Boulder Shelter for the Homeless can now be accessed by those same people who would qualify to use Bridge House’s 30th Street location. The 30th Street shelter was opened every night through March 31 by Boulder City Council earlier this year.
From April into May, it will be open on nights when temperatures are forecast to be 32 degrees or colder and dry, or 38 degrees or colder with precipitation.
Those interested in donating to or volunteering for the OUR Center can visit ourcenter.org. People wanting to donate to or volunteer for HOPE Longmont can go to hopeforlongmont.org. To help the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless or Bridge House, visit bouldershelter.org and boulderbridgehouse.org respectively.