Aspen Homeless Shelter needs $70,000 for Winter programs

New location for Aspen Homeless Shelter this Winter

With renovation construction closing St. Mary Catholic Church, Aspen’s winter homeless shelter will be hosted by another church east of town, the program’s director said Friday.

The Aspen Chapel near the roundabout has agreed to provide space for the homeless shelter from Dec. 1 to March 31 this coming winter season, said Dr. Vince Savage, director of Aspen’s homeless shelter program.

“It looks like their congregation is very much interested in helping us out,” he said, though officials at St. Mary have made it clear they want the shelter back when renovations are complete.

Attempts to reach officials at the Aspen Chapel and St. Mary on Friday were not successful.

And while the problem of a place to host the shelter has been solved, the problem of how to pay for it has not, Savage said.

“The real anxiety is whether we’re going to have it all,” he said. “We can’t make it this winter without some significant donations.”

Aspen’s homeless shelter program encompasses the winter overnight shelter, the Day Center program at the Pitkin County Health and Human Services Building and their hot meal program at the day center, Savage said. Altogether, it costs about $70,000 a year to run, he said.

“I’m a little more anxious about that than anything else,” Savage said.

A fundraiser is being held today at Ajax Tavern for the shelter and other programs featuring a barbecue competition among chefs from Aspen’s top restaurants. Tickets are still available on the Little Nell’s website, he said.

The number of people who utilize the shelter ranges from the teens to the high 20s and can even reach 30 people during busy parts of the winter, Savage said. The shelter accepts men and woman over the age of 18, though the rules “are pretty rigid,” he said.

People must register, which they can do when they arrive, and they must check in between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., he said. The shelter won’t accept people after 10 p.m.

“The purpose here is sleep,” Savage said. “It’s a place that’s warm and level.”

No food or showers are available, and those who show up can’t be drunk or belligerent, he said. Bathrooms are available.

jauslander@aspentimes.com