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A Day in the Life Outside Loveland Shelters

PERSPECTIVE COLUMN


By Dan Ibarra

December 9, 2023


It’s 6 a.m. on a crisp morning in late fall in Loveland, CO. A voice announces the time, and flips a light switch. Brightness envelops the tent where five individuals have just spent the night at Loveland’s shelter for the “unhoused,” or as most folks say, “the homeless.”


This is how every weekday begins at the Loveland Resource Center (LRC) and the South Railroad Facility (SRF) also known as, “tent city.” 


But today is a Saturday and that means the shelter is closed from 7a.m. until 7p.m. And the same times also apply for Sundays as well. 


People in front of the Loveland Resource Center on December 9th, 2023. The LRC isn’t currently open between 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. on weekends due to a staffing shortage. Photo by Dan Ibarra.


The LRC is both the day AND night shelter for some, and the SRF is only used as a night shelter. If you go online and look these places up, the City of Loveland’s website  says they are open for more hours than they actually are…. But because of a shortage of staff that has recently plagued these facilities, hours have been scaled back. Today is December 9th, a Saturday,  and those times are drastically different from the weekdays. Also because of a shortage of staff, the weekend hours have been adjusted to being closed from 7a.m.-7p.m. at the LRC. 


What Happens When Nothing is Open?

If you have never been here or used the services, you might wonder what happens to everyone, or where do they go for 12 hours a day, EVERY weekend?


Well, almost everyone who sleeps at either place has to figure that out. The SRF, at max capacity, can currently shelter 50. The LRC can shelter 22. What,“being sheltered,” means for everyone is different, often because of mobility issues. Those who do not have mobility issues will hit the library, go to a local park or just hang out in front of either facility. 


People in front of the Loveland Resource Center on December 9th, 2023. The LRC isn’t open during weekend days (7 a.m. - 7 p.m.) due to a staffing shortage. Photo by Dan Ibarra.


People with mobility issues, however, really have only one choice, and that is to go no farther than 20-25 feet from the entrance of The LRC. Most days this is not a problem for all, but today is mid December in Northern Colorado. And today the temps have been just above or slightly below freezing during the day, with overnight temps dipping down into the teens. Most deal with temps by being able to seek shelter, but people with mobility issues have to deal with the weather. When the wind chill gets factored in, temperatures make it feel even colder. 


I don’t have mobility issues, and my experience in the military has taught me how to deal with the elements. But many of these people, like many Lovelanders, aren’t from Colorado. They aren’t trained for this. People with mobility issues aren’t equipped to cope with the cold and freezing weather. 




“Ghost” sheltering outside of the Loveland Resource Center on December 9th, 2023, minutes before emergency medical technicians were called to the scene to care for him. The LRC isn’t open during the day on weekends due to a staffing shortage. Photo by Dan Ibarra. Ghost provided permission to share his image.


Today, my friend, who is known as ‘Ghost,’ was sitting in his wheelchair outside of the LRC. I brought him blankets and moved him into the sun to try to keep him warm. But as soon as the sun went behind a cloud, he started shivering uncontrollably. I called 911 and emergency medical technicians arrived to give him assistance. 


I have to ask, how much easier would it be to open the doors to a warm space?


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Editor’s Note: This is the first of an ongoing series of columns we have invited Ibarra to write for The Loveland Voice about the experience of being unhoused in Loveland.

There are currently two staff positions open for shelter support on the City of Loveland website: Shelter Program Coordinator, and Lead Overnight Shelter Coordinator

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