Community of Christ Church to provide overflow shelter

Serena Bettis

As fall begins and cold nights grow nearer, homeless shelters in Fort Collins become hard-pressed for space.

The City of Fort Collins, in partnership with Catholic Charities and the Fort Collins Rescue Mission, works to solve this problem each cold season, ranging from November to April.

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City of Fort Collins Social Policy and Housing Programs Manager Sue Beck-Ferkiss speaks during a meeting at Community of Christ Church Sept. 23. (Ryan Schmidt | Collegian)

City employees hosted a neighborhood meeting at Community of Christ Church Sept. 23 to discuss plans for overflow shelter, answer questions from community members and provide additional resources. 

“We just want to take a little bit of time going through the operational plan of what happened last year and what we’re planning for this year,” said Marcy Yoder, head of the Neighborhood Services department. 

Fort Collins has two overnight shelters: Catholic Charities’ The Mission and the Fort Collins Rescue Mission. During the winter months, these shelters can’t fully accommodate the needs of the community, said Sue Beck-Ferkiss, the social policy and housing programs manager with the City.

From our side and from our partners’ side, we hear that it went pretty well last year, and we’re hoping to replicate a similar season this year.” -Sue Beck-Ferkiss, Fort Collins social policy and housing programs manager

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City of Fort Collins Neighborhood Services Manager Marcy Yoder speaks during a meeting at Community of Christ Church Sept. 23. The meeting addressed community members about using the church building as an overflow shelter. (Ryan Schmidt | Collegian)

“We work together to expand their capacity,” Beck-Ferkiss said.

Located at 220 E. Oak St. near Library Park, Community of Christ Church will accommodate overflow from The Mission and Fort Collins Rescue Mission as it has in previous years. Operating seven nights a week starting at 9 p.m., the overflow shelter will be staffed only by women and will only serve women.

The overflow shelter served 20 women each night in years past, and that same figure is expected this season, Beck-Ferkiss said.  

Beck-Ferkiss said this was the best and easiest program to run “at this amazing partner and institution, who has opened their walls and allowed us to do this.”

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Joe Domko, regional director for Catholic Charities, speaks during a meeting at Community Christ Church Sept. 23. (Ryan Schmidt | Collegian)

Joe Domko, Catholic Charities regional operator, said that going into this season, there will only be minimal changes, as the feedback from last year was that “it was a good project.”

In years past, the shelter at Community of Christ Church opened at 10 p.m. By moving this time an hour earlier, Domko said that it should allow for a “more seamless transition” between warming centers and the overnight shelters. Additionally, the hope is also to minimize loitering.

“From our side and from our partners’ side, we hear that it went pretty well last year, and we’re hoping to replicate a similar season this year,” Beck-Ferkiss said.

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More information and resources on homelessness in Fort Collins can be found on the City’s website.

Serena Bettis can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @serenaroseb