The people behind “Yes on 20,” a ballot measure that would transform Park Hill Golf Course into a new neighborhood with affordable housing and a large park, have enlisted the help of the gay community.
The group will host an "awareness event" Saturday, March 11 from 7-10 p.m. at Tracks nightclub featuring the winner of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Yvie Oddly. Oddly will join Minor Misdemeanor, winner of “Floored,” as well as Gucci Blaze, Anne-Michelle Misdemeanor, reigning Ms. Colorado Aundria Sinclair and reigning Mr. Trans Colorado.
“Join us for a night of drag to support a great cause,” reads a flier promoting the event, dubbed “Out for Parks and Homes/Yes on 20.
”Yvie is a Denver native, and the event is centered around both supporting our work to create new affordable housing where it's desperately needed, as well as highlighting the issue of homelessness in the LGBTQ community, where that is a massive problem that often goes entirely overlooked,” said Declan Talley, a representative of the LGBTQ community. “In addition to Yvie, we have seven other performers who are all local acts. Admission for the event is free and we'll be having people update their voter registration information in order to get into the venue. We'll also have some candidates and elected officeholders attending, although that list has not been solidified yet.”
'RuPaul' winner once couch-surfed
Although a big star now, Oddly knows about housing insecurity all too well. "From the age of 17-21 there were a few different periods of time I spent couch surfing because I couldn’t afford to pay rent in the city (despite working full time)," Oddly said in an email. "But it wasn’t until I secured my first stable living situation that I saw how typical my struggles were for people in the queer community. Over the five years I lived there my roommates and I had provided shelter for around a dozen others, so it was not uncommon for our three-bedroom, one-bath apartment to be occupied by up to six or seven queer people at a time.
"Even today many of my friends who still reside in Denver can only afford to do so because they live in affordable housing. That’s why I’m encouraging people to vote yes on 20. If it passes it would allow the city to repurpose 155 acres of land and build over 3,000 new homes. But most importantly more than a quarter of these homes would be dedicated to affordable housing, which is more than double the legal requirement."
Sinclair said so many LGBTQ homeless youth "is a sad state of affairs," adding "This is due to so many families turning their backs on their loved ones upon finding out that their loved one is queer.
"As Miss Gay Colorado, I have seen my community plagued with violence, hate laws, and homelessness. We have to do something to make Denver more affordable for our community and the general population all together. As far as the heated rhetoric that is taking place. I believe that occurs regardless of the issues on the ballot."
Neighborhood would include park, affordable housing
At the Jan. 26 Denver City Council meeting, Park Hill Golf Course moved several steps closer to becoming one of Denver’s newest neighborhoods. But it only happened after a meeting that stretched beyond midnight and included more than 120 public speakers.
The City Council decided to ask the voters whether to remove a covenant on the property that requires it to be a golf course. The council also voted for zoning changes that will allow the property to be developed with retail and homes, including affordable housing. The council voted to create five special assessment districts for the development. Finally, the council signed off on a development agreement for the property.
Westside Investment Partners of Glendale bought the site in 2019. "Since the 1980s, the nonprofit Clayton Early Learning had been responsible for the 18-hole private golf course it owned (operated by a third party), in a neighborhood that has often lacked basic amenities like grocery stores, transit options and publicly accessible open space," Councilmember Chris Herndon wrote in a preface to the project’s small area plan. "Clayton’s sale of the golf course site in 2019 spurred numerous ideas, conversations, debates, meetings and news stories about the future of the Park Hill Golf Course."
Rhetoric regarding project proves intense
Westside Investment Partners, which owns the course, has partnered with Volunteers of America and Brothers Redevelopment, Inc. The latter two companies will build and own about 300 units of affordable housing on the former golf course if the project is approved by Denver voters and the City Council. A covenant keeping the land only for use as a golf course must be removed in a vote if the property is to be developed.
“There’s an acute affordable housing shortage in northeast Denver, and opportunities to build hundreds of affordable units, particularly (for) our low- and fixed income neighbors in one location, are becoming exceedingly rare,” said Jeff Martinez, president of Brothers Redevelopment, Inc., in a news release.
Vocal opposition has grown to the development but it also has fiercely loyal supporters."I’m aware that there are some opponents to the measure who are trying to argue that developers are pandering to LGBTQ individuals, but the fact remains that you can’t pander to a panhandler; there is nothing to beg for from a beggar," Yvie said. "When a community is in as much duress as ours (especially in the current sociopolitical climate) it’s counterproductive to over analyze why someone would ask our support for an endeavor that could help us in any way."
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