More than 500 Denver organizations, including the public schools, have shut down because of last night’s snow storm. But not the Harm Reduction Action Center.
The small nonprofit adjacent to the state Capitol works to keep Denver metro injection drug users — most of whom are homeless — safe when they shoot up heroin, meth or cocaine. The group runs a syringe access program, offers safer-injection classes and, perhaps most importantly, serves as a hub where addicts can access mental health services and form community.
“Our clients don’t get snow days, basically, and we need to be open for them,” said Robert Bellamy, HRAC’s programs directer.
This morning, snow covered the sidewalks outside HRAC. Clients who had taken refuge from freezing temperatures at a nearby McDonalds had been given the boot. Folks were eager to come in and warm up when the doors opened.
By 10 a.m., 30 people chatted as they sipped coffee and hot cocoa, and changed into fresh, warm clothes inside.
“We’re glad to see it’s not that many,” Bellamy said. “We think that’s because a lot of folks have found places to hunker down.”
Some who arrived were suffering from frostbite, and the HRAC staff helped them access medical care. Others were looking for emergency day and night shelters to stay in after HRAC closed.
“It’s not a fun place to be out on the street. It’s very wet and very cold,” Bellamy said.
Photo courtesy of Robert Bellamy.