Denver, CO

Denver approves basic income, tent village, hotels for homeless

David Heitz

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Colorado Village Collaborative

The Denver City Council approved Monday providing a basic income to 140 people experiencing homelessness.

The body also green-lighted a new tent village for people experiencing homelessness in the parking lot at the city-owned Arie P. Taylor building, 4685 Peoria St.

The council also extended a contract for putting people experiencing homelessness at risk for COVID up in hotels for six months. However, one of the hotels will close this week.

Basic income for transgender, gender non-conforming

Working with the non-profit Impact Charitable, the city will use American Rescue Plan Act money to funnel $2 million in payments to people experiencing homelessness. Specifically, the money will go to people who are transgender and gender non-conforming. Homeless families also will receive assistance.

New tent village on Peoria Street

The city also approved a lease with Colorado Village Collaborative for a new “safe open space” on Peoria Street. Residents will receive health services, case management and more.

Safe outdoor spaces are legal tent communities. Unlike illegal homeless encampments, the spaces all have durable fishing tents with heat and electricity. A security fence with a locked gate encircles the property.

Councilmember Amanda Sawyer voted against the lease. She said American Rescue Plan Act funds pay for the safe outdoor space, or at least part of it. “ARPA is a pot of gold that we’ll never see again. It should be used for long-term support, not fishing tents.”

Outreach workers say people experiencing homelessness often don't want to stay in shelters because couples can't stay together. Other people have dogs, which homeless shelters traditionally ban.

Some hotels will stay open through December

The city also extended a contract with Salvation Army to operate hotels for people experiencing homelessness at risk for COVID through the end of this year. Another hotel used to house people experiencing homelessness, a Quality Inn run by Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, will close this week.

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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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