Aurora, CO

Aurora camping ban expected to cost $4 million annually

David Heitz

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City of Aurora

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Aurora, Colo.) According to city estimates, Aurora's new camping ban will cost at least $4 million annually.

The council will hear options for housing people displaced by the encampment sweeps during Monday's study session. Additional costs include storage of their belongings and wraparound mental health services.

Aurora must provide shelter to those it displaces for its ban to withstand a legal challenge. According to project estimates, building a new homeless campus around the current Aurora Day Resource Center could cost up to $100 million.

Plans call for two towers flanking an expanded Aurora Day Resource Center. The new center would include 20,000 square feet and a commercial kitchen, laundry facility and medical offices.

From twin towers to tents: Housing the displaced

One 30,000-square-foot tower would provide permanent supportive housing. The other 40,000-square-foot tower would give temporary shelter to those displaced by the sweeps.

The city could save money by purchasing office buildings, warehouses or hotels and motels to house people experiencing homelessness. Aurora also is considering placing campers in legal tent villages or pallet shelters.

According to estimates, it will cost $2.1 million to expand the day resource center.

Six cleanups weekly costs $625,000 per year

According to city estimates, the cleanups themselves will cost Aurora about $625,000 per year. That includes six cleanups a week.

The city will need to hire additional outreach workers and case managers. Four outreach workers and an outreach manager will cost about $300,000 annually. Adding another van for outreach will cost $60,000.

The city estimates that staffing the Aurora Day Resource Center 24/7 will cost an additional $700,000 per year.

Aurora also will spend $28,000 to store the belongings of people displaced by the sweeps in shipping containers.

Homeless campus just pie in the sky?

Earlier this year, the council slashed funding for the homeless campus. "I'm not even sure about the campus yet," Mayor Pro Tem Francoise Bergan said in February. "I need a whole lot more information."

At that time, most of the council voted to skip hearing a presentation on the campus. Councilmember Juan Marcano said discussion about the campus is not for the council but for the news media and people watching at home.

Aurora can't house all its homeless

According to a city staff report, there are 594 homeless people in Aurora but only 150 shelter beds. The proposed campus would house 300.

Aurora's conservative City Council is not likely to spend $100 million on a homeless campus. Most members have advocated for temporary solutions such as warehouse shelters and ice fishing tents.

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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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