Denver, CO

Denver pays $1.5 million to keep hotel rooms for homeless open

David Heitz
Stock image by Marten Bjork/Unsplash

The Denver City Council voted Monday to add $1.5 million to two contracts with JBK Hotels LLC to provide temporary housing to people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis.

This will extend the services provided at 800 15th St. through Dec. 31. In addition to housing 140 people, all occupants will receive three meals a day, mental health services, and more. The Salvation Army manages the contract at Aloft. Colorado Coalition for the homeless provides medical services.

About $1.2 million is being spent on the rooms and $300,000 is budgeted for food. The total cost for the contract including past months is $10.5 million.

Rooms cost $95 per night

The room cost breaks down to $95 per person. The cost for the three meals is $25 per room per person. The city is only charged for meals that are delivered to occupants.

The Salvation Army screens applicants for the hotel rooms. The elderly and people with compromised immune systems or otherwise at substantial risk for COVID-19 occupy the hotel.

“The 140 rooms provided through this amendment are part of a larger effort by the Office of Housing Stability, or HOST, to offer non-congregate shelter for those experiencing homelessness,” according to a city staff report. “The current total of protective action rooms is 451. If the original agreement were to expire, the city would lose access to 140 rooms, decreasing the number of rooms available and putting many vulnerable individuals at risk of losing stable shelter.”

The cost per day to house people experiencing homelessness in the 140-room hotel is $13,300. That does not include health care services provided to the occupants.

Support for unhoused, isolated people

Also Monday the City Council approved as part of its consent agenda a $625,000 contract with Jewish Family Services to provide rapid-rehousing services to 160 households experiencing homelessness.

Also, as part of the consent agenda, the city added $888,000 to a contract combating loneliness and isolation during COVID-19 for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The contract with Point b(e )Strategies, LLC totals $1.3 million and continues through Oct. 31, 2023.

“Because inclusion is an essential aspect of this project, the contractor will consider and incorporate community engagement processes in the delivery of their work,” according to a city staff report. “This includes facilitating work through an equity lens and active inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout fund management processes.”

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO

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