City will Transition Away from Sheltering Outdoors in Heritage Park And Encourage Indoor Shelter Locations
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Beginning April 29, 2020, the City of Fort Collins will no longer allow Heritage Park to be used as an outdoor overnight shelter for those experiencing homelessness. The City and community service providers will continue to use Northside Aztlan Community Center (NACC) as an indoor overnight shelter option. NACC has provided additional space in the building to shelter the most vulnerable community members without homes (those who are over 65 years old and have specific underlying medical conditions). This added space allows them a separate room and designated bathrooms. This group is the most at-risk for dire consequences if they were to contract COVID-19. The primary overnight shelter at NACC is for men, and women can continue accessing overnight shelter at Fort Collins Rescue Mission and Community of Christ Church. Families can shelter together overnight at Catholic Charities. See emergency regulation here: https://www.fcgov.com/eps/files/suspension-of-2020-09.pdf?1588191634
The City and its partners are working to secure non-congregate shelter options (private, individual rooms) for the most vulnerable and at-risk community members to continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as identify other solutions to accommodate those without homes with compassion and care.
Since March 19, in response to public health guidance and global emergency, the City and community partners including Homeward Alliance, Homeward 2020, Catholic Charities, Fort Collins Rescue Mission, Health District of Northern Larimer County, and Summitstone Health swiftly established an indoor, centralized operations and shelter site at NACC to help keep people safe and slow the spread of COVID-19. See press release and NACC shelter emergency regulation here: https://www.fcgov.com/news/?id=7695.
Shortly thereafter, community members began sheltering outdoors in tents in Heritage Park. While camping in parks is illegal in Fort Collins, the City made a temporary exception to this ordinance during the Stay at Home Order because it provided another safe sheltering option for those experiencing homelessness. See outdoor shelter emergency regulation here: https://www.fcgov.com/eps/files/outdoor-shelter-emergency-rule-2020-09_.pdf?1588112981
The number of people camping continued to grow, and individuals began coming and going freely from the outdoor shelter area presenting health risks. Police and City staff consistently messaged to those camping that the outdoor facility was temporary and would shut down once the Stay at Home Order was lifted. On April 24, City staff and partners began letting outdoor shelters users know that they would need to transition to one of the indoor shelter options or make other arrangements beginning the week of April 27. See press release here: https://www.fcgov.com/news/index.php?id=7739
On April 13, the City allowed a building on Myrtle Street owned by the Colorado State University Research Foundation to be used as an isolation facility for those without homes who have tested positive for COVID-19 (2 community members so far). This facility will be operated by Homeward Alliance and the Health District. See press release and emergency regulation here: https://www.fcgov.com/news/index.php?id=7721.
Additionally, the City is extending the women’s overnight shelter at Community of Christ operated by Catholic Charities through May - it was set to expire on April 30. https://www.fcgov.com/eps/files/2020-14-community-of-christ-shelter-order.pdf?1588191635
City staff is working to evaluate when to transition NACC back to regular operations. This decision will be based on state and county public health recommendations.
For the most up to date information about both the indoor and outdoor shelter, sign up for the City’s COVID-19 email newsletter at: https://www.fcgov.com/eps/coronavirus.