Denver, CO

Denver pays homeless coalition $45 million for hotel rooms

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) The Denver City Council anted up another $1.6 million for Colorado Coalition for the Homeless Monday to staff hotels for people experiencing homelessness at risk of catching COVID.

The extension means at least 280 hotel rooms will be available through the end of December. The city has paid the Coalition almost $40 million over two and a half years on this contract.

The Coalition provides healthcare to the hotel’s occupants. The contract does not include the cost for the rooms. During a committee meeting last week, the City Council paid $3.9 million to U.S. Motels Denver North, Inc. to provide hotel rooms through March 31, 2023.

Earlier this month, Quality Inn on Zuni closed after two years as a homeless hotel. Some people returned to the streets.

The Salvation Army signed a $2.75 million contract with the city in March to operate the former Rodeway Inn as a homeless shelter through the end of December.

Also Monday, the city agreed to pay the Coalition $5 million toward the purchase of the former La Quinta Inn at 3500 Park Ave. The Coalition already owns the site and is using it as a non-congregant homeless shelter. Non-congregant shelters allow for couples and pets. The hotel currently is a protective action site, which means it houses people at risk for COVID.

Site to be razed, rebuilt after 2025

The hotel currently has 103 rooms. However, after 2025 the Coalition plans to scrape the site. The organization wants to build a 200-unit development.

The $5 million comes with certain requirements by the city. According to backup material provided with the Safety, Housing, Education and Homelessness Committee agenda, the city would require intensive case management, including:

· Access to a multidisciplinary treatment team, including nursing, case management, peer support, individual and group therapy and psychiatry and medication support.

· Housing stabilization. “(The Coalition) must provide assistance in healing from trauma, addiction, mental health issues and homelessness,” according to materials provided by city staff. This would be accomplished “through assessment, treatment planning, benefit acquisition, care coordination, and crisis response. These interventions will support long-term housing stability.”

· Linkage to community support. “(The Coalition) must work to develop community supports through engagement, socialization, life skills, peer activities, and vocational programming,” according to the backup documents.

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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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