Denver, CO

Denver considers spending $11 million to house the homeless

David Heitz

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Denver Homeless Out Loud

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) The Denver City Council's Public Safety, Education, Housing and Homelessness Committee will decide Wednesday whether to spend $11 million to house the homeless.

One contract, which may be somewhat controversial, is with Colorado Village Collaborative. In exchange for $3.9 million, the organization would provide at least four "safe outdoor spaces" citywide with amenities and services. Safe outdoor spaces are legal tent communities with supervision, healthcare access, bathrooms, and showers.

City Council member Amanda Sawyer regularly votes against contracts for safe outdoor spaces. She believes those spaces violate the city's ordinance outlawing urban camping.

This latest contract would bring the city's total with Colorado Village Collaborative to almost $5 million.

Even if the committee approves the contracts, the full City Council still needs to sign off.

Encampments create complaints

The city is under tremendous pressure from constituents to do something about homeless encampments.

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A homeless encampment is swept in the pre-dawn hours.Denver Homeless Out Loud

The committee will consider a $3.7 million contract to administer the Denver Street Outreach Collaborative and Strategic Outreach to Large Encampments program.

These programs work to get encampment dwellers off the streets and into a shelter or permanent housing.

The annual Point in Time survey is a census of homeless people taken by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative. The 2021 survey showed the number of people experiencing homelessness in Denver for the first time is at an all-time high and increasing. COVID has caused those numbers to rise.

$1 million for motel vouchers

The committee also will consider spending more than $1 million with U.S. Motels Denver North, Inc. to provide vouchers for short-term housing when the city's emergency shelter beds are full. The contract would bring the total spent with U.S. Motels Denver North to $2.7 million.

Finally, a $1.7 million loan to Elevation Community Land Trust LLC is on the table. The trust would use the money to add at least 26 income-restricted properties that it would sell to households at or below 100 percent of the Denver area median income, or $83,900 for a family of four. The city already loaned the company $3 million for other units.

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I have been in the news business more than 30 years, spending much of my career at some of the best local newspapers in the country. Today, I report on Denver City Hall, homelessness and other topics for NewsBreak, much like I did in my twenties covering Newport Beach, Calif. for the Daily Pilot. I consider myself a lucky guy to still be doing what I love after so many years.

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