Denver, CO

Denver, homeless coalition search for shelter for displaced hotel residents

David Heitz
The Quality Inn on Zuni Street in Denver will cease operations as a homeless shelter next week.Google Street View

By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Despite being accused of kicking out about 150 people staying at Quality Inn on Zuni Street, the City and County of Denver and Colorado Coalition for the Homeless said Wednesday they continue to work hard to house residents.

Derek Woodbury of the city’s Department of Housing Stability, or HOST, said 41 percent of the Quality Inn residents have housing or will move to another hotel. “Shelter staff continue to work closely with all guests to provide transition support to get them into other shelter or housing. Some are exiting to permanent housing, or to bridge housing until their housing unit becomes available. Others are transferring to other protective action hotels and congregate shelter.”

The city gave residents notice last month that the hotel would cease operations as a homeless shelter in September. Other hotels in the city also are being used to house people experiencing homelessness.

Colorado Coalition for the Homeless holds the contracts for managing Quality Inn as a homeless shelter. Cathy Alderman, spokeswoman for the coalition, said some residents who told news reporters they have been kicked to the curb actually hold housing vouchers. She concedes that it still can be difficult finding landlords who will rent to people experiencing homelessness in such a competitive housing market.

Shelter at Denver Rescue Mission

She also empathized with Quality Inn guests who may have to temporarily go back into a congregant shelter, such as Denver Rescue Mission’s downtown location. The hotel rooms offer privacy that congregant shelters lack. However, case management and linkage to healthcare will be available at the Mission, Alderman said. “We recognize it’s not an ideal situation for everyone.”

Some residents will go to a hotel the Coalition recently purchased for people with medical issues. Alderman would not say where the Park Avenue Inn is located.

She said it’s not air to say the Coalition is “booting people out putting them on the streets,” adding, “Some self-discharged and we don’t know where they went.”

Working with 150 people who all have different circumstances and various housing vouchers is time consuming, Alderman said. Time is ticking away, with residents being told they must vacate the hotel by next week.

HAND hosting community meeting

The homeless advocacy group Housekeys Action Network Denver, or HAND, hosted a meeting at Confluence Park Wednesday to discuss options for Quality Inn residents. Some of the suggestions they have made include:

· Identify properties for which the City could master lease/buy and rent to Quality residents (and others) at affordable rates (one-third of income)

· Use hotels temporarily while the city buys hotels for permanent use, including the Stay Inn, which the City is supposed to be closing on this year

· Consider using bridge housing vouchers to secure immediate temporary housing.

· Investigate availability at Roadway hotel.

· Investigate availability at other Colorado Coalition for the Homeless properties, including Renaissance Legacy Lofts, a new building behind Stout Street Clinic, Fusion Studios on Quebec, and other properties with openings.

· Activate a contract with Hometowne Studios locations (a hotel that has reached out wanting to help by contracting with the City or other agency to house these residents).

· Sign a contract contract with a social enterprise group who has offered to help regarding housing navigation for people with vouchers.

· Provide additional support for bilingual/ Spanish speaking case managers to support non-English speakers and those with hearing disabilities.

· Investigate options for couples that would not separate them

· Provide more case managers

· Secure mail option at the place Quality residents move to. This will ensure mail is received. “Critical mail such as SSI processes has been lost due to not getting mail on site; this has been a barrier for finishing the housing process,” according to a HAND news release.

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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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