Denver, CO

Neighbors complain about homeless at Aloft hotel

David Heitz

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Rob Squire/UpDoNA

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Several Upper Downtown Neighborhood Association members told the Denver City Council Monday that homeless people staying in Aloft hotel openly use drugs, catcall passersby, and produce trash and feces that litter the streets.

The city has a contract with Aloft, 800 15th St., to place people experiencing homelessness at risk of contracting COVID in the hotel. But neighbors of the hotel said residents of Aloft scare away the convention goers who come to the city.

“We peacefully co-existed for two years,” said Lisa Pope, vice president of the neighborhood association, known as UpDoNA. Now, she says, the hotel is preventing downtown from fully recovering.

Open drug use

“The men housed there can continue their use of drugs and alcohol,” Pope said, adding they use drugs outside because it is prohibited inside.

They implied the worst of COVID has passed, and people experiencing homelessness no longer need to be protected from infection in hotels. But COVID cases continue to spike in waves. Pope suggested making the contract month to month.

Dr. Sue Townsend, also from UpDoNA, said that as a physician, she appreciated Denver’s compassion when people experiencing homelessness checked into the hotel. But now, problems with mental health crises, drugs, crime, and trash make living next to the hotel frustrating, she added. She wanted to know whether the residents of the hotel have been vaccinated for COVID.

The council does not respond to remarks made during the public comment period to maximize time for residents to speak.

Chasing off convention business

Rob Squire, also representing UpDoNA, said people experiencing homelessness at the hotel chase off conventioneers. “Denver goes to great lengths to get convention business,” he said. He wondered whether the hotel’s prime downtown location is appropriate for housing homeless people.

Some of those who spoke Monday said the hotel’s occupants include sex offenders. “What if a teenage girl was sexually assaulted or worse?” Squire asked. “Imagine the headlines. Imagine the national news stories.”

Randle Loeb lives at Aloft. He explained he could have died had he not been placed there. He said it’s not true that everyone at Aloft is using drugs. He said he became homeless when he lost a landscaping job. He said he has been working many years as a “public servant” in Denver.

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Randle Loeb lives in Aloft hotel.Denver 8

“I come from the heart with no aspirations to snow you,” Loeb said. “People here need a purpose.”

He said the hotel is professionally managed by Salvation Army and feels very safe.

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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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