The Grand Junction Day Center where I volunteer accommodates anywhere from 75 to 120 homeless people on a given morning, but it's not a big place—especially when you fill it with a like number of backpacks, heavy winter clothing and maybe a wheelchair or two.
If it were a house, an imaginatively unscrupulous real estate agent might describe it as a 2000-sf ranch style two-bedroom with master suite, walk-in closet and three-baths, a roomy vestibule, a great room, custom window coverings, well-equipped laundry room and covered patio—within walking distance to all downtown has to offer.
Of course, this imaginary description leaves out a few key details. (There's nothing about ranch style that says a building can't be made of cinder blocks, right?)
You might've noticed there was no mention of the kitchen. Well, there is one if you don't want to cook or store any food. It's adequate for preparing urns of coffee. It has countertops, drawers and cabinets with a double sink where we wash coffee cups and a mop sink for filling buckets; metal shelving for cleaning supplies; plus, a three-by-four break table that may harbor a microwave. At least, I recall there's some kind of boxy thing under the expired snacks that arrive daily for volunteers to consume.
The vestibule is unheated. The "walk-in closet" (actually a storage room filled with Rubbermaid tubs for storing guests' clothes and personal items) is at the opposite end of the building from the "master suite," which now serves as an exam room, where a nurse or medical students are available a few times a week. It's a suite because a door opens into a small restroom that this week needed a space heater in it to keep the pipes from freezing.
The only way to come up with three 3/4 baths is by ignoring the fact the three toilets and three showers are contained in five different rooms. The laundry area is more of a passageway with five washers and driers that churn all morning from about 7 a.m. on.
The great room runs about half the length of the building, filled with three long folding tables surrounded by chairs. Another row of chairs runs against the wall under the windows, which feature metal roll-down security shades that were installed after the last firebombing.
You'll find the second bedroom isn't a bedroom now, either. It's the office for the Day Center's director. The shortage of actual bedrooms isn't a problem, though, since no one sleeps here unless they can do it sitting up in a roomful of people between the morning hours of 8 and noon.
If I haven't made this place sound very appealing, maybe that's because I'd hate to see anyone buy it and take it off the market. And so would a couple hundred other people for whom if it isn't exactly home, it's pretty damn close.