Denver, CO

Six Denver homeless survival resources

David Heitz

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Although homeless resources in Denver are vast, you only need to know half a dozen good ones to get by.

And there is something to be said for frequenting the same homeless resources repeatedly. It’s a good way to form relationships with people who can help you.

Here are 6 places I frequented while homeless in Denver that never let me down. If you are homeless, they will keep you fed, clothed, and showered (although COVID may be affecting their operating hours right now).

And if you want to help Denver’s homeless, these organizations are worthy of your time or money.

1. Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Located at the top of Capitol Hill, this massive Catholic Church serves coffee and bologna sandwiches in the alley next to the church at 8 a.m. Monday through Friday. Dave from Knights of Columbus and his faithful volunteers never fail to feed the homeless in this tight-knit neighborhood of homeless people. There usually are not any problems in the line. The feed is over quickly, in about 15 minutes or so.

At noon, the office of the Denver Catholic Diocese, located next door to the church, passes out food baskets. The care package includes crackers, tuna, canned chili, and snacks. This provides food for homeless people to take back to the shelters or camps with them for later.

2. St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church at Auraria Campus. Morning coffee and lunch, seven days a week, where Denver’s downtown college campus is located at Speer and Arapahoe. Morning coffee and lunch lines form in the alley behind the campus church, next to the library. Homeless people begin marking their spots as early as 6 a.m.

Volunteers bring the coffee out around 9 a.m. Someone usually brings pastries or maybe a breakfast burrito.

For lunch, delicious soups are served. Sandwiches also are handed out. Sometimes snacks and hygiene items are available. After lunch, sometimes the church passes out clothing from the basement. I have ended up with a couple of nice pairs of shoes from this church in the past.

This line can be a bit rough. Some of the homeless people who frequent this line like to fight. Be prepared to keep your mouth shut and your head down.

One Saturday per month a church group hands out bus passes at Auraria Campus.

Auraria Campus Library also is popular with the homeless community. Computers are available.

Thanks to a campus police officer who asked the library to make an exception, I was allowed on the computers for 30 minutes each day to write my homeless blog even though I do not have an ID.

I have been working diligently for several months to obtain an ID but have been finding red tape each time I go to the state office. I am hoping the ID arrives in the mail soon.

3. Impact Humanity. Impact Humanity is a clothing store for homeless people located in the Five Points area at 2526 Welton. Everything is free. All items are gently used. The owner, Travis Singhaus, owns new clothing stores, too. Homeless people may come every day the store is open (usually three days per week) and select one item from each rack. This place has nice clothes. You can walk out of there with some nice threads that will leave any homeless person feeling better about themselves.

Another great thing about Impact Humanity is they always hand out hygiene items, including razors. You would be surprised how hard it is to find a razor when you are homeless.

Even in the COVID-19 era, soap is scarce. Organizations don’t like to pass out hand sanitizer because some homeless people allegedly drink it.

4. The Give at Denver Human Services. This is the only place I know of in Denver where homeless people can obtain toilet paper. The Give is in Denver Human Services’ main office at 1200 Federal Boulevard. Homeless people may visit The Give periodically and obtain certain items such as toilet paper, hand warmers, emergency blankets and more.

5. Christ’s Body. Christ’s Body is a day shelter located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. It is at 850 Lincoln St. and is known just as “850 Lincoln.” This is a low-key place where you can always enjoy listening to KLOVE while having a good cup of coffee. Showers are available some days. A clothing closet is available, but sizes are limited. A popular pancake breakfast is every Friday at 8 a.m.

6. Holy Ghost Catholic Church. Holy Ghost Catholic Church located at 1900 California Street is in the shadow of one of Denver’s tallest skyscrapers. The church passes out sandwiches and donuts every morning at 9. People can go back through the line until the sandwiches and donuts are gone. Sandwiches are served in the basement during the winter months and restrooms are available. Vouchers for obtaining identification are available.

A homeless person never will starve in Denver, but they’ll work up an appetite all day walking from meal site to meal site.

What this list sadly lacks is housing. I am unable to make any housing recommendations based on experiences I had while homeless on the street. I found the shelters to be unsafe and aggravating. When I complained about being bullied, I was thrown out. Such is often the case with people who complain in shelters.

The best thing to do if you ever become homeless is to find another person you trust to camp with. There is safety in numbers, although homeless people should not be chummy with everyone. Still, one buddy is good. While one person sleeps, another can keep watch.

Above all, homeless people in Denver should register with Colorado Coalition for the Homeless immediately. It gives them access to excellent health care at Stout Street Clinic and puts them on a waiting list for coveted housing.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO
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