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The Caring and Sharing Men’s shelter in Salida has closed as of February 8. Caring and Sharing made the decision to do some deep cleaning and rethinking about the shelter.

Chaffee County Hospitality Inc. received notice on Friday, Feb. 5 that both the Lighthouse Soup Kitchen and men’s shelter would need to close, explained Mike Orrill.  “We do not know at this point whether the shelter closing is a permanent thing or not. Each of the men received a sleeping bag, a tent if they did not already have one, and extra layers for this evening. He continued “That’s really all we have that we can do.”

Image courtesy of Caring and Sharing.

Chaffee County Hospitality, Inc. and the Caring and Sharing board plan to meet on Wed. Feb. 10 to talk about next steps regarding when, and if, the shelter can reopen.

The decision appears rather sudden. Chaffee Regional Health Connector Mike Orrill said that he was unsure if the conversation during the meeting would be tense or not.

Orrill said “We really actually do need another place in the community to hold the shelter. We have looked and looked. Caring and Sharing was the only spot that had opened but there have been enough issues that bring us where we are today.”

“If anybody has a space in their building that we could do this at, we really need to make that change,” added Orrill. “Even if Caring and Sharing opens up to us again we all are in agreement that we really need another spot in the community.”

A member of the Chaffee County community who supervised a warming center in the Boulder area explained “My experience was this. The very basic idea is to keep people from dying or having major health events from exposure to the weather. This is a population that very frequently has drug or alcohol issues, often compounded by mental health diagnoses. The things that create homelessness are often the things that make people especially vulnerable to cold/wet weather – not to mention assault.”

“Often people have expectations that the people seeking shelter will abide by a set of rules, and the reality is that this population, in particular, may not deliver on that 100 percent. So you’ve got to make the call on the behaviors you’re willing to accept: Weapons, no. Fighting, no. But a mildly intoxicated person may be better served by coming inside and being safe,” she explained. “It’s a constant judgment call that hopefully recognizes people’s safety and humanity. Chaos is going to happen. Are you going to have interactions with the police and possibly emergency medical responders? Probably. Is your facility going to be in better shape by providing overnight space to homeless people or anyone else? Probably not.”