Breaking news: Aspen Homeless Shelter to open tonight | AspenTimes.com

Breaking news: Aspen Homeless Shelter to open tonight

Staff report

The Aspen Homeless Shelter opened Friday night, made possible by a small grant from the Aspen Community Foundation. The Homeless Shelter opened at 9 p.m. and will operate for the rest of the month, with its usual hours scheduled to begin Dec. 1.

The doors open nightly at 9 p.m. and participants must be in by 10 p.m. They are asked to leave each morning by 6:50 a.m.

Tamara Tormohlen, director of the Aspen Community Foundation, said her staff read newspaper articles Friday about the shelter's budget constraints and decided to tap into the Foundation's emergency assistance fund. The Foundation provided the shelter with $3,200 so they could open immediately, she said. The Foundation's emergency fund exists from donations that come from the community.

The Aspen Times reported in today's paper that the shelter wouldn't be able to open until Dec. 1 because of a lack of funding, according to shelter director Director Vince Savage.

"The reason we don't open any earlier … is basically budget," Savage said. "And this is our first year trying to raise all of our funds on our own because the foundation that used to support us cut us loose."

He was referring to the Aspen Valley Foundation, which stopped assisting the shelter and several other charities in late 2013 and early this year following a rapid decline in fundraising. For decades, the foundation was called the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation, but after cutting ties with Aspen Valley Hospital in 2012, the nonprofit was renamed.

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The Aspen Valley Foundation still exists but does not have the fundraising and grant-making power it once had.

Hours at the day shelter had to be shortened and measures were undertaken to cut costs of the evening-meal program in response to funding issues, Savage said.

"We're raising all of our revenues ourselves," he said. "We've got some generous donors in town, but there is a need."

That need was met, at least temporarily, thanks to the Aspen Community Foundation's response to the need on Friday. The shelter's doors are now open two weeks ahead of schedule.

The Homeless Shelter is located at St. Mary's Catholic Church on Main Street in Aspen. For more information call Aspen Community Foundation at 970-925-9300 or Vince Savage of The Aspen Homeless Shelter at 970-544-5545.

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