BRAVING THE STREETS Part 3: A $2.4 million project to end homelessness in Fort Collins

 Features  Comments Off on BRAVING THE STREETS Part 3: A $2.4 million project to end homelessness in Fort Collins
Feb 132008
 

centerBy Tim Maddocks

After years of enduring unfit living conditions, unsure where they would spend the next day, the under-the-radar Larimer County homeless population will soon have a sure place of refuge from the biting cold of Front Range winters every day.

Construction on a new $2.4 million center to alleviate homelessness in the county will begin in March and is planned to open by Thanksgiving.

The Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center for Hope will house agencies and case managers to guide people out of homelessness and to prevent people from becoming homeless.

Sister Mary Alice Murphy, a long-time advocate for Fort Collins’ poor, opened the first soup kitchen, the first homeless shelter and the first non-profit affordable housing agency since coming to Fort Collins in 1983. She now spearheads the newest innovation for Fort Collins’ needy.

Groundbreaking for the Murphy Center is scheduled for late March, “when the ground thaws a little,” said Gordan Thibedeau, executive director of United Way.

“It’s startling to people,” Murphy said. “A lot of people in Fort Collins don’t believe there are homeless here. There’s an aura that this is Choice City. But there are poor, and they’re hidden.”

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless reports that one out of every 100 people in the U.S. is in need of a home. As the Larimer County population hovers around 250,000, the Coalition conservatively estimates that there are 2,000 homeless people here.

Kim Iwanski, project manager for the Murphy Center, said that a more revealing fact can be found in a survey of Poudre School District students. In 2006, 806 children claimed to have experienced homelessness. She said that number may be higher because many of the older students try to hide their situation.

It could happen to anyone

“Most of us are one paycheck away from being homeless,” said Bruce Hall, a CSU social work professor.

Hall said all it takes in some cases is the flu.

“Let’s say you’re a student-bartender at Young’s, and you’re hit with the flu. You miss three weeks of work. You won’t be able to pay rent,” Hall said. “Next thing you know you’re sleeping on friends’ couches and homeless. It’s as simple as that.”

For the homeless population, finding the right agencies to help can be difficult because the many different social services are scattered throughout town, and each individual has different needs.

“There’s no one reason people are homeless,” Murphy said. “There are as many reasons as there are people in the shelters. So it will be a one-stop shopping center for all the housing needs. And hopefully we can get to people before they’re homeless.”

With the county heading construction efforts, United Way has raised the money and will continue to manage funding, while Catholic Charities Northern will run day-to-day operations once the center is completed.

Helen Somersall, regional director for Catholic Charities, has been dealt the task of designing the daily operations and organization of the Murphy Center.

She said while the specifics are not worked out, the center plans to have an intake process that will cater to specific needs of each individual.

Somersall said an intake matrix will determine what needs are being met and which aren’t, then a case manager will guide the client to whatever action will be most helpful.

More than 30 potential agencies may be housed in or associated with the new center. Probable agencies housed in the new center include: Fort Collins Housing Authority, CARE Housing, Workforce Center, Consumer Credit Counseling Service and Project Self-Sufficiency.

The center will also have mailboxes and voicemail for homeless people who find it hard to network for jobs or acquire necessary documents to get their jobs, homes and public services.

Thibedeau said that while the center will have employees, volunteers will be “extremely important.” The community, he said, needs to come together to confront the problem.

“It’s critical that students get involved,” said Murphy, who is a CSU social work student adviser. “And some of them are not that far from being homeless themselves.”

Corey Longhurst, a junior business student, is a member of the Homeless Initiative Task Force for UniverCity, an organization designed to enhance the relationship between CSU and Old Town.

“Even though the issue is somewhat hidden, I think the homeless are very much part of the fabric of the CSU and Fort Collins community,” Longhurst said.

The cities of Fort Collins and Loveland contributed $70,000 and $87,500, respectively, from Community Development Block Grants.

Larimer County added $283,000. The rest of the $2.4 million came from various foundations and private donors.

The center will be located in north Fort Collins on the corner of Conifer Street and Blue Spruce Drive.

Plans are also in the works to open a full-time day shelter at the same time as the Murphy Center.

Staff writer Tim Maddocks can be reached at new@collegian.com.

BRAVING THE STREETS Part 2: One man’s story of lost identity and homelessness

 Features  Comments Off on BRAVING THE STREETS Part 2: One man’s story of lost identity and homelessness
Feb 122008
 
James Schumacher, a 27-year-old homeless man living in Loveland, holds a discarded cigarette butt that he re-lit after procuring it from the planter at left Jan. 26. Schumacher calls the practice "sniping" and says it is a "filthy habit" that has become a part of his life without income.

James Schumacher, a 27-year-old homeless man living in Loveland, holds a discarded cigarette butt that he re-lit after procuring it from the planter at left Jan. 26. Schumacher calls the practice "sniping" and says it is a "filthy habit" that has become a part of his life without income.

By Tim Maddocks

A homeless man sits at a table at Catholic Charities Northern, a Fort Collins shelter, waiting for free lunch to be served.

He’s munching on orange peanut butter sandwich crackers. With each bite, the crackers crumble off his wild, unkempt beard and onto the table, where he takes the crumbs, nervously gathers them into a pile and rearranges them. Then, he wrecks the pile, only to rebuild it.

Emotionless, he looks at the floor and mutters under his breath intently, in a sort of public speaking cadence that only makes sense to him.

“That’s the problem with America,” he says. “All that land they took from the government … considering the taxes. There’s something called a tax return — means something opposite of what it sounds. You never get back what they take out.

“The thing about the middle class …” he goes on, paying no attention to a reporter taking notes.

When asked his name, he looks up, pulls off his blue cotton beanie, releasing his wild brown hair, and proudly proclaims, “James,” still holding the beanie high above his head.

James stops muttering.

He sleeps under the bridge by Wal-Mart, on Mulberry Street, that guides traffic over the Cache La Poudre River — a step up from the streets of Denver, where he was recently hit on the head with a baseball bat.

“My head went to the side,” he says, tilting his head to the right to show where he’d been struck. “I didn’t even see who hit me. But I tried not to fall because I didn’t want to get hit again. I waited ’til I saw they were gone, then I let myself drop.”

There are different types of cold, James says, the worst being the “spiky cold.” The bridge helps with the cold sometimes.

His eyes twitch as he continues to talk in a voice too loud for the room.

“Since I’ve been homeless, I’ve been through hell,” he says. “If you want to write an article that will help people, you should talk about how hard it is to get identification. The reason I don’t have a job is because I don’t have an ID.”

Slipping into homelessness

James Schumacher was born on Oct. 10, 1980. But he has no proof of that.

“During my life, you wouldn’t believe the crap I’ve been through,” he said in December while surfing the Web at the Fort Collins Library, where he spends most days. “All the abuse I’ve been through, and am still going through, is why I’m homeless.”

James Schumacher settles down for a snack in an open-air garage near the homeless shelter in Loveland, which was closed for two nights because weather was not severe enough to warrant its opening. Schumacher decided to spend the night of Jan. 26 in this garage.

James Schumacher settles down for a snack in an open-air garage near the homeless shelter in Loveland, which was closed for two nights because weather was not severe enough to warrant its opening. Schumacher decided to spend the night of Jan. 26 in this garage.

James was born to a broken family living in a trailer park in Elkhart, Iowa, where he says his parents neglected him.

“From the time I was four years old, I was left alone all the time,” he said. “All I had was food and an Atari 2600.”

He describes his relationship with his family as “extremely mentally and verbally abusive.”

“I hate my family,” he said. “I don’t want to ever see them again.”

When he was 14, he moved into his grandparents’ house in Ankeny, Iowa, after his stepfather “threatened to kill (him).”

At 17, he dropped out of high school and started treatment for his new addiction to crystal meth.

“I haven’t touched meth since,” he said, almost defensively. “And I smoked pot once after that and hated it.”

He doesn’t drink.

After getting his grade equivalency diploma at 19, he worked at various package-handling jobs and spent his spare time learning basic computer programming skills ¬– a profession for which he aspires still.

James said he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2003, but he’s adamant that he isn’t afflicted with the condition. He hasn’t found work since.

James gets one meal each day at the Community Kitchen in Loveland. He was able to pick up snack foods from First United Presbyterian Church on Jan. 26 after using the shower there.

James gets one meal each day at the Community Kitchen in Loveland. He was able to pick up snack foods from First United Presbyterian Church on Jan. 26 after using the shower there.

He moved out of his grandparents’ house for the first time on Feb. 5, 2006 — he remembers the date — and has been homeless since.

In April 2006, he headed for California to find programming work.

Armed with only a bag of clothes and a hunch, he hiked the couple miles from a Des Moines Salvation Army to a ramp off of Interstate 80, stuck his thumb out and hitched a ride.

He never made it to the Golden State.

A man in a blue minivan drove him 650 miles to the Perkins in downtown Fort Collins, gave him $20 and drove away.

Shortly after arriving in Fort Collins, he realized he left his ID in Des Moines.

Since then, James lives on the streets of the Front Range, going from Fort Collins to Cheyenne to Denver and back to Fort Collins, sticking close to I-25. Loveland is his resting place, for now.

On Friday, Dec. 7, it snowed hard and continued all weekend.

“I haven’t slept the last two nights because it’s been so cold,” James said at CSU’s Morgan Library, where he says he keeps his computer skills sharp. “I can stay warm under the blankets, but I can’t sleep.”

James was lucky enough to get into an emergency weather shelter the following Monday.

The ID Catch-22

In Fort Collins, Catholic Charities and Salvation Army are the only two agencies that help people acquire the sometimes hard-to-get documents to apply for government benefits, which require a state-issued ID and a birth certificate.

The services include food stamps, welfare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits.

James spends two hours at the library every day writing computer code and doing research online.

James spends two hours at the library every day writing computer code and doing research online.

But these Fort Collins agencies — knowing many, like James, are all but invisible — also help homeless people acquire IDs.

Bruce Hall, a CSU social work professor, said many people lose their ID because of the nature of their environment. Many are alcoholics or mentally ill, and IDs get lost or stolen.

“We can sit on our wallet all day,” Hall said. “But (some homeless), they’re not oriented in space and time. You’re lucky if you can keep your pants on, let alone keep an ID.”

And when an ID is lost, it’s not a simple process to get another one.

“You need an ID to get an ID,” said Helen Somersall, regional director of Catholic Charities. “It’s become real punitive.”

Kate Walker, director of Catholic Charities emergency assistance program, has helped the needy acquire IDs and birth certificates for the last three years.

In November, one client had 13 pieces of documentation, including a Native American tribal ID, she said, and he still couldn’t get identification.

Colorado Citizens ID Collaboration Project in Denver helps people get documentation for public benefits, and sometimes helps the homeless acquire birth certificates or IDs.

“It’s a big problem,” said Liz Miller, a specialist with the Colorado ID Project. “It’s a complicated process because (the states) try to make sure people are who they say they are.”

Since February the Colorado ID Project, a grant-funded program, helped 931 people get the required documentation for either IDs or birth certificates.

In the last six months, Catholic Charities has helped 51 people acquire birth certificates.

And it’s harder in some places than others to get a birth certificate.

“In Colorado it’s not too hard, but other states can be difficult,” Walker said,

Getting James’ ID

For the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a state ID, a photo ID is required. Documentation like passports, school IDs, expired state IDs and military IDs work.

James only had a birth certificate when he got to Fort Collins.

But the DMV in Denver gives out exception processing forms for people without proper documentation, and the form only requires applicants to have a birth certificate and Social Security card to get a state ID.

The Collegian used a recent tuberculosis test to prove James’ existence, wrote the $15 check and ordered his Social Security card in early December.

For the man without an identity and his heart set on Silicon Valley, things were beginning to look up.

Running from the demo-nazis

Following James in his quest for identification, his extreme paranoia became increasingly evident.

“I hate you demo-nazis,” he wrote in reference to what he believes is an entity comprised of his family and the government, which conspires to control him.

James keeps a blog, documenting his life and telling his story. To the rest of the world, it’s the only real proof of his existence.

“Everything people put me through, this country… It’s on a comparison with a terrible heinous act, except in some ways it’s worse,” he wrote in one submission. “The fact that this country put me through all it has since I was four years old, and against my will, and for the majority of my life I had no clue as to what was going on …”

James admits he endured two stints in a Broadlawns Medical Center, an Iowa psychiatric hospital, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. But he says he doesn’t have schizophrenia and refuses to take medication.

Schizophrenia is defined as displaying a variety of psychotic symptoms over a period of six-months. Symptoms include: Distorted perceptions of reality, hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking, and lack of emotional expression, to name a few.

Dominic Brewer, a CSU psychology professor said in his 11 years at CSU, he has treated five student-patients with schizophrenia.

James exhibits all the telltale symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, Brewer said.

“For a paranoid schizophrenic, their sense of reality is real,” Brewer said. “To tell them they’re not delusional or hearing voices, they think you must be crazy, because they are hearing voices. You can’t argue with them and tell them otherwise. It’s a very sad disease.”

Brewer said that while there is no known cure, medication can quell the symptoms. However, paranoid schizophrenics are the hardest type to medicate because they generally don’t want to take medicine.

Brewer said without medication and a strong support system — medical professionals, family or friends — it’s virtually impossible to control symptoms of schizophrenia.

According to the Coalition for the Homeless, 16 percent of homeless people in the U.S. have severe mental disorders.

But Brewer said that number is likely higher because many choose not to access public health systems.

Getting an ID ‘ain’t easy’

The Collegian received James’ Social Security card Jan. 5, a huge step toward attaining an ID.

But the process would take a huge step back when James lost his birth certificate. It was square one all over again.

“Somebody stole it,” he said at the Denver Public Library, where he had temporarily relocated. “Or I might have lost it.”

Hitching a ride back the same day, James made it back to Loveland, where he now had to work on getting a new copy of his birth certificate.

The next day, the Collegian printed out an application for an Iowa birth certificate and had James complete the form.

But the application needed to be notarized, which requires a state ID; banks couldn’t notarize the document.

James needed a picture ID to get a picture ID — seemingly, a Catch-22 that would forever keep him from escaping life on the streets.

But a brief criminal history — a misdemeanor assault case that was later dismissed ¬¬– could be the key to acquiring James’ identity.

His record could be used to identify him, a clerk with the Iowa Department of Health said. And the birth certificate could be mailed to James, and only to James.

But he doesn’t have an address, hasn’t had an address, and won’t have an address any time soon.

The document could be mailed to the shelter he was staying at, but Loveland’s shelter is opened on a day-to-day basis, and it doesn’t have a mailbox.

So the Collegian arranged to have it sent to a shelter in Fort Collins and ordered James’ criminal record.

But the Iowa Department of Health said the document had to be sent to a place where James is currently residing.

“This isn’t going to work,” the clerk said about a week later. “You can’t do it. Stop trying … you have to be affiliated with something to help him. There has to be a cover letter with his request. Tell him to go to Social Services.”

When the Collegian inquired further, asking to speak with a supervisor, the call was terminated.

James’ application is now being processed by a local social services agency, an agency that has cover letters.

The Collegian heard from James Monday, from a phone in Cheyenne, Wyo., where he is staying at a shelter and looking for under-the-table work. If he gets an ID, he hopes to pursue his dream of becoming a computer technician.

Staff writer Tim Maddocks can be reached at news@collegian.com.

BRAVING THE STREETS Part 1: Fort Collins’ homeless brave the winter

 Features  Comments Off on BRAVING THE STREETS Part 1: Fort Collins’ homeless brave the winter
Feb 112008
 
Media Credit: Brandon Iwamoto Fort Collins homeless citizens Jeffrey Shaw, left, and Melissa Catanzarite talk in the courtyard of the Catholic Charities Northern Mission the morning of Jan. 26.

Media Credit: Brandon Iwamoto Fort Collins homeless citizens Jeffrey Shaw, left, and Melissa Catanzarite talk in the courtyard of the Catholic Charities Northern Mission the morning of Jan. 26.

By Tim Maddocks

Sitting behind the plexiglass-shielded front desk at the Fort Collins Salvation Army office, Olga Duvall, director of social services, filled out forms on a mild day in late November while a 20-something-year-old woman waited on a bench across the hall.

“We are helping her with her rent, so she does not become homeless,” Duvall said, in her thick Russian accent.

Duvall called the woman sitting on the bench over.

“Ok, I think you’re set,” Duvall said, handing her the paperwork.

The woman — who wouldn’t offer her name — spent last winter on the streets. Over the summer she found low-income housing, but without steady work, rent is hard to come by.

The streets, she said, aren’t an option this winter because she has a 5-month-old daughter.

Last winter she stayed at The Mission, run by Catholic Charities Northern. The Mission’s policy forced her out during the day at 6:45 a.m. Its day shelter isn’t open unless weather forecasts predict temperatures below 40 degrees, and doors don’t open back up until 7 p.m., leaving many homeless on the streets more than 12 hours a day.

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless reports that one out of every 100 people in the U.S. is in need of a home. As the Larimer County population hovers around 250,000, the Coalition estimates that 2,000 people are homeless here.

United Way, through work with local shelters, estimates that 80 of them are chronically homeless — without a home for a year or more.

“They only open the (Emergency Weather Day) Shelter when it’s really, really cold,” the woman said. “I can’t be out on the streets with my daughter. I want to make sure she doesn’t freeze to death.”

A second shelter, The Open Door Mission, caters to the daytime needs of the homeless. Its day center is equipped with an old TV and three crammed couches that have seen better days. But it’s small, catering to no more than 15 people. The woman said it’s no place for her baby.

More than a number

Gordan Thibedeau, United Way director, said the estimated 2,000 homeless in Larimer County are a largely hidden population.

“People (are) living in garages or sleeping on friends’ couches.” Thibedeau said.

Bruce Hall, a CSU social work professor, said numbers are only part of the picture.

“As long as it’s a number, people are fine,” he said. “But when you realize there’s a person behind the numbers it’s different. What are these people doing? They’re shuffling through the labor pools, they’re going to be depressed and down on themselves. If you’ve got nothing going on but bad stuff, it’s going to be very hard to break out.”

Hall compared the effect the homeless have on our community to that of college students moving into Fort Collins neighborhoods. Realty value drops or the neighborhood is sometimes perceived negatively. But where else would CSU students move?

“Well, imagine if you’re homeless,” Hall said. “You’re muttering, shaking, talking to yourself, chronically ill. You get ticketed for peeing on the streets, but where else are you going to pee?”

He said an increasing number of young, single parent families are invading campus and blending in.

“Many of the homeless at the Lory Student Center are young single mothers, (who look like students,)” Hall said. “They come with their children and blend in.”

Growing needs

Olga Duvall, 33, has been with the Salvation Army for 11 years, first as a translator for the Moscow branch before she came to Colorado six years ago.

“In Fort Collins, every year there’s more and more and more (people needing help),” she said. “The need is the same everywhere around the world. People need food, shelter and clothes.”

Because the majority of the homeless population is unseen, it is impossible to gauge how many go without shelter in Fort Collins. But poverty trends indicate a growing number of needy residents.

Poverty in Fort Collins increased 62 percent in the past six years from 15,872 to 25,600 people in poverty, according to a 2006 American Community Survey.

To combat and prevent the growing problem of homelessness, the city of Fort Collins, United Way and Catholic Charities banded to approve funding for a $2.4 million homeless shelter.

The coalition will break ground on the Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center in March and the center will open by Thanksgiving. It will be funded by donations from various organizations to United Way.

The complex will not be a shelter for the homeless, but it will house agencies currently scattered throughout town and provide case workers who can help struggling individuals with their specific needs.

Plans for a full-time day shelter to open at the same time are also in the works.

Until then, Catholic Charities’ Emergency Weather Day Shelter stands as the only place with enough room to shield Fort Collins’ destitute from the cold.

Twelve hours on the street … and it’s “really, really cold.”

For the dispossessed, shelters are the last refuge, and the streets are the last option.

In the early morning people trickle out of the shelters wearing layers, pulling hoods over their ears.

Some go to work, others to find jobs. Some go to various local social service offices to meet specific needs. Some go to libraries, the Lory Student Center or the Downtown Transit Center. On cold days, some can go to the Emergency Weather Day Shelter on Mason Street to keep warm.

“Some have night jobs, or part-time pizza delivery jobs, and when it’s cold they need a place to go,” said Helen Somersall, regional Catholic Charities director. “But there’s also the people camping outside, who need a place to dry out their tent.”

New Bridges Day Shelter, formerly the only day shelter for the homeless, closed in 2001 because of a lack of funding.

So three years ago the city, United Way and Catholic Charities launched a joint initiative to start the Emergency Weather Day Shelter. Fort Collins provides the building, United Way funds operations, overseen by Catholic Charities.

“When we went to fill that gap, (the need) for a day shelter, we used research from CSU students to get City Council to give us a building,” said Sister Mary Alice Murphy, founder of The Mission and chief advocate for Emergency Weather Day Shelter.

The research showed that it doesn’t need to be freezing — 32 degrees — for hypothermia to set in. People can get hypothermia at 39 degrees Fahrenheit.

Somersall and Catholic Charities staff use next-day weather forecasts to decide when to open the shelter on a daily basis.

If it’s going to be colder than 40 degrees, Dennis Alldredge, a 48-year-old Catholic Charities staffer, opens the abandoned yellow warehouse — previously owned by Ricker Brothers Inc., a wholesale trades company, to store cigarettes, candy and magazines — as a temporary shelter.

“This is my deal,” Alldredge said.

In the entryway hall, before the building breaks into the high and wide warehouse expanse, Alldredge uses a desk just inside the front door to administer Breathalyzer tests.

Water, coffee, plates and napkins sit on tables next to the desk. An old PC, solitaire the lone program, occupies a table near the window. An aquarium with only one fish sits in the partitioned makeshift family room.

“We try to have fun,” Alldredge said, with a smile.

The warehouse area has five tables occupied by people watching grainy TV. There’s a box full of what Alldredge calls “bad movies nobody else wanted” donated by Blockbuster. There’s a stack of board games and decks of cards.

Over the last three winters, Alldredge has spent more time in the old warehouse than anyone else.

“We average 18 people a day,” Alldredge said early one January morning, “But today we have 30.”

Alldredge cites social and family issues as the most common reason for homelessness.

“A lot of it’s alcohol and meth,” he said. “But you know there’s divorce, too.”

A young married couple stepped in from the crisp cold with several shopping bags full of belongings. Alldredge gave them each a breathalyzer test, the only requirement to get into the shelter. They blew into the tube, waited for their passing result, and meandered inside.

The couple took a look at the main area, the large empty space, red rafters, grey brick walls and grey cement.

“It’s a big space,” Alldredge said. “We want to have a roller derby sometime.”

The woman turned to Alldredge.

“Dennis, can you watch our bags while we smoke?” she asked.

Alldredge joked with her that he wouldn’t watch the bags. After light-hearted debate about the safety of their luggage, he told the couple to put them under the table.

“They had their child taken away from them last year (by Social Services),” Alldredge said after they walked out the door. “It was really hard on them.”

Alldredge is the main Catholic Charities staffer who works the day shelter, though others on staff relieve him at times.

He and Somersall use three different weather Web sites to determine by 3 p.m. whether they will open the next day.

But the forecasts aren’t always right.

“Last Thursday and Friday we blew it,” Alldredge said.

Weather reports predicted warm temperatures on Jan. 10 and 11. But it was wrong. The emergency day shelter was closed, leaving homeless people to the mercy of the windy snowstorm or public venues, like the public library, which is a gamble, as sometimes librarians ask vagrants to leave.

Where they don’t breathalyze

The ramped entrance to the Downtown Transit Center displays a large white sign with black lettering that reads, “No Loitering.” Small plaques over the two entryways say the same thing.

“The homeless come in and just sit, and they sit, and they sit,” said ticket clerk Marina Scohy. “After an hour we have to chase them out. They always seem to get here when the bus has left.”

City buses run on an hourly schedule, so waiting more than an hour is considered loitering.

“They’re going to go where they don’t breathalyze, and I can smell the alcohol when they come in,” Scohy said. “It can be a problem because we have working offices next door, city meetings.”

The homeless population also finds shelter at Fort Collins Public Library. Director Brenda E. Carns said she has seen the number of homeless increase since she started 11 years ago.

The homeless library patrons are generally amiable, she said, and when there is a problem it’s usually “substance abuse related.”

“For people falling into problem areas, we basically don’t have tolerance,” Carns said. “If they’re bothering people or passed out, if staff notice them sleeping, they wake them up. We may have to help them leave.

“They’re welcome … but the same rules apply to them as to everyone else.”

For the homeless there are not physically a lot of options when it’s cold and there’s no place to go.

Alldredge closes his doors at 4 p.m. The Open Door Mission serves dinner at 5. People staying at the shelters still have a couple of hours in the cold. And when the sun is down it’s even colder.

As the landscape of problems change, Somersall said, so do the services offered to the Fort Collins’ destitute.

“We’re always filling gaps,” she said. “When the New Bridges Day Shelter closed we had to fill that gap. The new center for the homeless will fill even more gaps.”

The Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center signifies the proactive approach by the many players handling the homelessness situation. The new center will concentrate local resources into one building to prevent Larimer County homeless from struggling with the area’s frigid winters.

Staff writer Tim Maddocks can be reached at news@collegian.com.