Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the address of the city’s COVID-19 recovery center.
Boulder City Council on Tuesday night heard an update on the city’s severe weather shelter plan ahead of the winter season.
Housing and Human Services Director Kurt Firnhaber and Homeless Policy Manager Vicki Ebner laid out what to expect. The severe weather shelter is a temporary shelter located inside Boulder Shelter for the Homeless and from Dec. 1 to March 15, 140 beds will be available at the shelter, 4869 Broadway.
The temporary shelter can be triggered to open from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30 and March 15 to May, according to the presentation.
The city will also provide 20 hotel rooms Nov. 1 to May to individuals at-risk for COVID-19. There will be 15 beds available at the COVID-19 Recovery Center, located at 3845 Stanford Court, Nov. 1 through March 31, and the center will have 10 beds in October and April and five beds in May.
Additionally, there will be 20 hotel rooms for overflow on nights with critical weather between October and May.
The severe weather shelter temperature threshold includes: a National Weather Service warning or watch for wintry weather, a prediction of below 32 degrees or a prediction of below 38 degrees with precipitation.
The city deems critical weather conditions when the National Weather Service predicts 10 degrees or lower or six inches or more of snow.
Between the resources, there will be between 145 and 175 beds available, according to the presentation, with up to 195 beds during the coldest days.
Still, there will be fewer beds available this winter compared to previous seasons and the coronavirus pandemic limits public spaces individuals can use during the day.
Councilmember Junie Joseph asked whether there’s anywhere homeless people can go during the winter between noon and 5 p.m. while the shelter is closed for cleaning. Officials said there is not, and Ebner noted many people at the shelter get lunch at Harvest of Hope Pantry during that time.
For individuals to use the severe weather shelter, they must get screened through the city’s housing-first system Coordinated Entry. They can stay one night without a screening, but it is required on the second night. Individuals can use the shelter no more than 30 nights across the season.
The shelter also has a 7 p.m. curfew, which gives time for Boulder Shelter for the Homeless to “conduct a lottery for the available beds,” according to the study session memorandum.
Councilmember Adam Swetlick said the lottery felt like a choice of “who gets to live every night.”
“It feels very Hunger Games-y to me,” he said.
Councilmember Rachel Friend asked during the session whether anyone would be turned away through Coordinated Entry. Ebner said it is just a screening process.
Beginning mid-October, asymptomatic coronavirus tests and flu vaccinations will be available for the homeless population, officials said Thursday.
Council acknowledged they will never have the resources to address housing and homelessness on a state or national level, and Boulder Shelter for the Homeless CEO Greg Harms acknowledged there will always be people who can’t get housing. Going forward, council asked for periodic updates.