Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Day Shelter Finally Opens After Months of Ballpark Neighborhood Objections

Just in time for Thanksgiving — and yet another predicted snowfall — the Lawrence Street Community Center has gotten the green light to open its doors. This is the day-shelter for the homeless that had been in the works for several years, promised back when Denver officials approved the urban-camping ban and also closed off Triangle Park (aka "the Bumuda Triangle"), sending people to the streets of the Ballpark neighborhood where they'd stand for hours, waiting for the doors of evening shelters to open.

The Denver Rescue Mission, owner and operator of the LSCC, had been stymied by a lawsuit filed this summer by the Ballpark Neighborhood Association against the DRM as well as the City and County of Denver, arguing that the city's Board of Adjustments for Zoning Appeals had violated Denver's zoning rules in approving the center. On September 3, Denver District Court judge Michael Mullins had ruled in favor of the neighbors, determining that the new center was just an expansion of an existing shelter — a decision that "shocked and dismayed" the providers, said DRM head Brad Meuli.

But the city and DRM appealed, and late last month Mullins reversed himself and vacated his previous order. Late last week,  the Denver Rescue Mission learned that the center could open its doors. Along with providing meals and access to clean drinking water, bathrooms, shower facilities and washing machines, the LSCC will allow men, women and families experiencing homelessness an opportunity to learn how to participate in the long-term New Life Program and STAR transitional program.

And so Mayor Michael B. Hancock; City Councilman Albus Brooks, who represents the area; Denver Rescue Mission staff and a team of volunteers will help serve the first lunch at the center starting at 11:30 a.m. today. Members of the Hancock administration will also be making their annual donation of turkeys for the Denver Rescue Mission turkey drive. The center is located at 2222 Lawrence Street, just two blocks down the street from Sustainability Park, where various homeless groups have been staging protests, including the Stone Soup Revival's gathering on Saturday.